Keyword: 2021 Winter Storm
Like most sequels, the summer spin-off exploits lingering interest in the original, but hasn’t quite lived up to the hype – so far.
Another week of 100+ degree highs throughout the state producing record-setting electricity demand and ERCOT conservation alerts is also recharging the politics surrounding the reliability of the state’s electric grid. Texans' doubts and anxieties about the reliability of the grid make the return of the grid as an issue in the 2022 gubernatorial election inevitable amidst wall-to-wall coverage of the scorching weather and calls to conserve.
Polling shows why looming winter weather triggers Texans' anxieties about the grid, and their doubts about political leaders' response
As the first serious winter storm descends on their state, Texans’ pervasive anxiety about the reliability of the state’s go-it-alone power grid has floated to the surface of public discussion like a North Atlantic iceberg. Weather forecasters and energy mavens assure us that the weather hitting a large swath of the state lacks the severity, duration, or geographic impact of the February 2021 disaster that left hundreds dead, millions of Texas without power in sub-freezing temperatures, and caused billions in damage. Polling we conducted both shortly after the 2021 outages and in the intervening months suggest that the seemingly widespread anxiety about the return of cold weather reflects the pervasive impact of the last storm, as well as a lack of confidence in the state leadership’s measures to ensure the reliability of the grid in the wake of last year’s failures.
The most recent Texas Politics Project statewide poll included job approval ratings for Texas elected officials and President Joe Biden, as well as some policy-related approval items for several leaders. We’ve gathered them in one place for reference below, with selected crosstabs and trend items where available.
Texans see multiple causes of February’s winter storm outages, support many of the changes being discussed by the Texas Legislature
The results of a March poll developed in conjunction with a team of researchers at the UT Energy Institute asked dozens of questions about Texans’ experience during the winter storm, their attitudes toward causes and consequences of the storm, their views of, and expectations about, possible policy responses, and their views of how a wide range of actors from their neighbors and utility providers to state political leaders, regulatory bodies, and corporate actors.
While our joint venture with colleagues at the UT Energy Institute focused primarily on research questions related to Texans’ experiences during the winter storm and the infrastructure outages that followed, the results also provide rich context for the legislative wrangling over the appropriate policy response(s) to the storm and the multidimensional politics surrounding it. The data is fresh and there’s more drilling down to be done, but here are some initial impressions, with more to come after the holiday break. You can find all the results and hundreds of graphics on our latest poll page, and if you want to take a look at the questionnaire and topline results or take your own deep dive into the crosstabs (or even the data itself), it can all be found in our polling data archive.