Keyword: 87th Legislature

Abbott leads O’Rourke 47-37 in projected 2022 gubernatorial contest amid signs of fallout from the 87th Legislature and the corrosive impact of GOP rejection of the 2020 presidential election

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The release of the February 2022 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll coincides with the beginning of early voting in the Texas primaries, so trial ballots and all things election-related in the poll are likely to attract the most interest. Incumbent governor Greg Abbott leads former Congressman Beto O’Rourke 47% to 37% in a hypothetical match-up in the November General Election. In their primary races, Abbott remains above the run-off threshold, while O’Rourke is unsurprisingly a virtual consensus candidate among Democrats. Beyond the horse races, the poll paints a picture of a state experiencing strong political crosswinds in several policy areas. In some familiar issue areas, public opinion appears closely divided as a result of sharp and intense differences among partisans. In others, majorities (albeit often slim ones) oppose the direction state policy headed in the last legislative session, frequently as a result of broad Democratic opposition supplemented by divisions among Republicans. 

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A Rush for the Exits? Contextualizing Turnover in the Texas Legislature

| By: Joshua Blank and Jim Henson

It’s natural to look for patterns in legislators' decisions to not seek re-election to the offices they hold, especially retirements, and to view each as yet another factor in handicapping upcoming primary and general elections. This intuition finds some support in evidence that congressional retirements appear responsive to short-term electoral forces. Expectations that Democrats will face a tough election cycle this coming Fall with a Democrat in the White House and the majority of electoral maps constructed by Republican legislatures certainly inform the conventional wisdom as we prepare to ring in 2022.

But how well does this apply to the current slate of retirements and expected electoral turnover in the Texas Legislature?

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Tepid reviews for the red-hot legislative agenda in latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll results

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The second batch of results from the October 2021 UT/Texas Tribune Poll were released by The Texas Tribune Monday in stories by James Barragan on Texans’ judgments of their elected officials actions on issues discussed during the legislative session as well as other policy questions, and a piece by Abby Livingston on Texans’ views of the jobs Texas’ U.S. Senators are doing as well as chief executives’ handling of key political issues (COVID-19, the economy, and immigration and border security). 

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Quick takeaways from the first wave of October 2021 UT/Texas Tribune Poll results

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The first wave of October, 2021 UT/Texas Tribune Poll results released by The Texas Tribune today focus on the 2022 election, covered in a story by Patrick Svitek, and Texans’ general attitudes toward elections, voting, and a little on redistricting, covered in a story by Cassandra Pollock. Look for more results early next week in the Tribune. On the whole, the results paint an interesting portrait of the public opinion terrain in the state a year out from the 2022 election. We’ll follow up with more analysis of the results in the coming weeks when we can connect different strands of material that won’t be rolled out until early next week. For today, here are a few first-takes on today’s results.

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Second Reading Podcast: A look at the output and implications of the 87th Texas Legislature

Feeding the property tax beast

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

One of the final acts of the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature was the negotiation of SJR 2, a measure that, if approved by voters in May, would increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 beginning with the 2022 tax year. Property taxes have been a perennial source of griping, especially in areas of Texas experiencing rapid population growth, rapidly rising home values, and the corresponding increase in property tax bills. Of course, as policy makers have been frequently reminded during the long real estate boom in Texas, in Texas’ growth obsessed but revenue-constricted political economy, efforts to reduce property taxes enough for voters’ to actually feel the effects of legislative action are severely constrained. 

While the primary driver of that constraint is fiscal, another major constraint is public opinion. A decade of polling on property taxes illustrate that many voters notice those rising property tax bills, but are likely to be unimpressed with what ultimately amounts to legislative tinkering in efforts to validate some sort of claim that the incumbent government is addressing voters’ concerns.

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An Overview of Abortion Attitudes in Texas: Four Things to Know

| By: Joshua Blank

The reasons for the Texas GOP’s leap forward on abortion restirctions after a decade of chipping away at access are likely many, and worthy of their own piece of analysis, but looking ahead to the next set of Texas elections in 2022, the sudden change in the reproductive health landscape begs the question: where do Texas voters stand on abortion?

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The national media are focused on Texas politics again – but what are Texas voters paying attention to?

| By: Joshua Blank and Jim Henson

It’s hard not to be struck by the spike in political stories coming out of Texas making national news, and we shouldn’t expect the national spotlight to stop shining on the state any time soon.

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Texas Public Opinion and the agenda for the third special session of the Texas Legislature

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation calling for the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature Tuesday afternoon, adding four items to the agenda in addition to the expected focus on redistricting, and setting September 20 for the legislature’s return. n addition to the Constitutionally mandated drawing of new district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state legislature, and the State Board of Education, Abbott called on the legislature to consider and act on allocating federal COVID relief funds, “disallowing” students from competing in UIL athletics “designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth,” prohibiting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and the dog abuse bill that the governor vetoed after the regular session. We’ve compiled results of recent polling to provide the public opinion context for all but one of the issues on the governor’s call. 

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New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texans dour and deeply divided

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds Texans in a dour mood colored by a resurgent COVID-19 virus, an economy recovering yet roiled by its impact, and state politics driven by increasingly entrenched and in many instances extreme partisanship, which is being accentuated by the Republican monopoly on state government. Texans expressed more worry about the surging pandemic and its effects than in June, and gave Governor Abbott the lowest job approval rating of his tenure in office. A majority – 52% –  said the state is headed in the wrong direction, the worst assessment of the direction of the state since the inception of this polling project in 2008.

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