Keyword: Greg Abbott

Attitudes Toward Democracy are Underwater in Texas: Some Takeaways from Results on Voting and Expectations for the 2020 Election

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The COVID-19 pandemic led to local elections and run-offs some local officials postponing elections in the spring and early summer. By emergency proclamation, Governor Greg Abbott expanded the period of early voting and loosened some of the rules regulating the in-person submission of mail-in ballots, even as he and the attorney general waged political and legal counter-offensives against efforts by local officials, voting rights groups, and Democrats in various configurations to ease access to the ballot box during the pandemic. As part of this political zig-zagging, the governor, in a subsequent proclamation, limited the number of in-person, mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county.  Despite Abbott’s refusal to expand voting by mail, as many advocated during the height of the pandemic, the new Chairman of the state Republican Party, Allen West, joined efforts by Republicans to sue the governor over his expansion of the early voting period. Both parties also maneuvered to get their third party rivals removed from the ballot. This list isn’t even comprehensive, nor have we made mention of the widely chronicled and vehement aspersions Donald Trump continues to cast on the integrity of the election process as his national and state poll numbers erode.

With all of this as context (and great interest and high expectations that the results would be interesting), we designed a battery of questions for the October 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll probing Texans’ attitudes about the conduct of the elections in Texas and their expectations of the process in 2020. The results don’t disappoint in terms of their interest, but it’s appropriate that we greet them with Halloween on the horizon. They are grim and even scary. 

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Five Medium-Hot Takes from the First Wave of October 2020 UT/Texas Tribune Poll Results

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The Texas Tribune rolled out three Ross Ramsey stories on the first wave of results from the October University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll early Friday morning. The release included results of the trial ballots in the presidential and U.S. Senate races, as well as job approval numbers for the candidates and several state elected officials.  Here are five first-cut takeaways from the day one results – much more analysis to come, and many more results focused on matters such as race and policing, attitudes and behaviors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expectations of how smoothly the election and its afternmath will go coming next week. (Find a summary of day one results in pdf form here.) Below are some early impressions of the first group of results, with much more drilldown to come between now and Election Day.

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It's October, But Is Any of This Really Surprising? Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, October 2, 2020

| By: Jim Henson

The rules regulating voting in Texas got another restrictive twist this week when Governor Abbott issued a proclamation imposing new limits on the handling of mail-in ballots. Abbott’s action took place even as agitation among GOP dissidents on the right continued to pressure him for his exercise of executive power during the pandemic. One of those dissidents added more fuel to that fire Tuesday when she finished first in the special election in Texas Senate District 30. While all this was unfolding in Texas, apparently President Donald Trump was getting infected with COVID-19, which as the week ended diverted attention away from his reluctance to unambiguously reject White supremacist groups at the Tuesday’s unpleasant presidential debate, though it sheds a new light on his continuing underestimation at the debate of COVID-19 in general and preventative measures in particular. 

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Fear and Loathing at the Ballot Box: Texas Data Points for the Week In Politics, September 26, 2020

| By: Jim Henson

The artifice and hyperbole inherent in the Hunter S. Thompson reference notwithstanding, the week's election news elicited genuine fear and sincere loathing. So with emotions high and the stakes for the political system even higher, this week’s post focuses on the escalating political fighting over the rules for the 2020 general election as voting procedures in Texas are being challenged on multiple fronts, and as the President all but promises that he will contest the outcome of the election if he doesn't win. On the same day that Donald Trump refused (the first time, anyway) to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election, a group of Texas Republicans was asking the Texas Supreme Court to reverse Governor Abbott’s extension of the early voting period. All of this overshadowed the state’s compliance this week with a federal court order requiring Texas to follow the 27-year old “motor voter” law by allowing Texans renewing their driver’s license online to also update their voter registration - a possible beachhead for belatedly bringing online voter registration to the state. As the week ended, the voting plot thickened still more, as the Texas Attorney General tried to highlight a voter fraud case involving absentee ballots in a primary race for county commissioner, and a federal judge sent shivers through the spines of county clerks by blocking the 2019 law ending straight-ticket voting in Texas. And as a backdrop to the swirling political and legal chaos around elections and voting, the Secretary of State announced an increase in registered voters (registration continued through October 5). These are all pieces of an important puzzle picturing the resilience of democracy in the state and the nation. With early voting set to start in Texas in less than three weeks (setting aside the lawsuit for the moment), as a wise observer once said, all the pieces matter. I took a little more time this week to put several of them together.

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Positive Thinking, Minus the Positivity: Texas Data Points for the Week in Politics, September 18, 2020

| By: Jim Henson

Governor Abbott started the weekend on Thursday by announcing that based on a new criteria, much of the state would be able to relax, though not remove, some of the restrictions on business and public activities. We also got to put a debate between Senator John Cornyn and challenger M.J. Hegar on our calendars this week (October 9), even as a report issued by a non-profit suggested that the pandemic resulted in a drop in new voter registration, at least in the spring. In other voting data that is equally unsurprising, very few people are voting in the Senate District 30 special election to replace Senator Pat Fallon. National Democrats' late summer confidence got a little shakier this week, especially as they pored over the ever-difficult-to-intrpret poll numbers among Latinos. And for much of the week, Donald Trump kept it up, raising the usual questions. 

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Raging and Pledging: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, Sept 11, 2020

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The release of recordings of conversations between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and President Donald Trump as part of the Washington Post's rollout for Woodward’s second book about Trump, Rage, dominated coverage of politics, Trump, and COVID-19 this week. Senator Corynyn “in retrospect” opined that President Trump just maybe could have trusted the American people with “accurate information." Meanwhile, as part of his effort to get re-elected, Trump this week released a list of potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that included, among other colorful characters, the junior U.S. Senator from Texas that the president used to call "Lyin’ Ted." Back in Ted Cruz’s home state, his former boss, Governor Greg Abbott, continued to avoid undue attention to COVID-19, channelling the president’s political turn to press a law and order argument with a new campaign pledge for Republicans and citizens (validated with your data), and still more proposals designed to punish cities ostensibly not toeing the blue line. And there’s a lot of stress in the state this week as many kids returned to whatever version of school is on offer in their neighborhood. Don’t panic, just read on for more Texas data related to these events from the week in Texas politics.

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When the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics (September 3, 2020)

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

President Trump took the discussions of mail-in voting through the looking glass when he urged supporters to vote by mail and to vote in person, too. While Attorney General Bill Barr testily and ineffectually tried to clean up Trump’s nihilistic weirdness (by suggesting that what he really meant was that Republicans’ voting by mail “have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates then they won't be able to do that”), Texas Republicans from both the executive and judicial branches were doing their best to stifle the attempted expansion of voting by mail in Harris County. As Trump’s latest election play unfolds in the choppy wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott floated the idea a relaxation of the statewide containment measures after the Labor Day holiday, seemingly not quite taking into account the lag effects in accounting for the community spread we saw after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekends earlier this summer, and even as pandemic data collection in Texas continue to leave a lot to be desired. Speaking of data, Comptroller Glen Hegar provided his offices’s regularly scheduled state revenue update, which enables us to look not only at quality monthly data but also provides a look at FY 2019. Much less useful was a recent release of Texas presidential polling, which got us on our soapbox about poll disclosure (sorry, though not a lot). Finally, a Texas Tribune/ProPublica report on the unsurprising news that a section of the border wall paid for as part of the ALLEGED “We Build the Wall” grift is likely to come tumbling down made us recall results from the UT/Texas Tribune Poll back when the wall was a thing. Find polling and other data on these topics in this week's Texas data points...

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The Second Reading Podcast: Law & Order in the 2020 Campaign

| By: Texas Politics Project

In this week's Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss the Trump presidential campaign's law and order campaign in the wake of the Republican National Convention and the shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and briefly touch on the Texas Attorney General's efforts to prevent Harris County from sending mail-in voting applications to everyone in the county.

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Thumbs on the scales: Texas Data Points for the Week in Politics (August 29, 2020)

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

State Senator Pat Fallon’s Senate seat is not only still warm, it’s not even technically vacated, which made Governor Abbott’s thumb-on-the-scale calling of a snap election for his replacement the major political preoccupation inside the Austin beltway (such as it is) this week. We take a look at the district, presumed frontrunner State Rep. Drew Springer’s positioning there, and possible spoiler Shelly Luther’s potential audience among the Texas GOP. Meanwhile, in Charlotte and on several public properties in the Washington, D.C. area, Donald Trump and his political party attempted to rally fervid Trump Republicans while shoring up some key corners where they fear attrition in November, a tricky task, even if you do have the White House as a backdrop. Hurricane Laura came ashore big, though luckily appears to have inflicted less damage than anticipated. Still, some Texas areas adjacent to the major disaster areas in Western Louisiana were hit hard; we gingerly consider the possible political consequences of the disaster in Texas, along with other data points from the week in politics.

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The Republican National Convention Through the Eyes of Texas Republicans, via the Texas Politics Project Poll Data Archive

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

In advance of the convention’s effort to mobilize voters behind the top of the ticket while finding the sweet spot between defining and channeling the mood and agenda for GOP campaigns across the country, we’ve gathered public opinion data on Texans’ attitudes. As both the base and the broader electorate spend the week receiving the messages transmitted by the national party via the convention, we’ve focused on Texas Republicans and conservatives, though where appropriate have also included independents, moderates, and the occasional snapshot of the broader electorate. 

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