Polling at both the national level and in Texas have increasingly shown partisan differences in attitudes toward the COVID-19 pandemic and in peoples’ reported behaviors in response to it. But an analysis of data in the June 2020 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds evidence of another, potentially surprising political profile distinct from party in COVID responses: Perceptions of threat to White masculinity. The data and discussion that follows demonstrate a strong linkage between the perception of a threat to White masculinity and attitudes toward the coronavirus pandemic. In short: the more an individual believes in the existence of a threat to White masculinity, the more likely that person is to downplay the severity of the virus, to believe it will be resolved quickly, to focus more on the economic than human harm, and are less willing to take part in private activities to stop the spread of the virus.
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.
With their parties’ national conventions behind them and the final phase of the presidential campaign set to begin after the Labor Day weekend, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden will seek to reinforce their framing of the campaign this week amidst the backdrop of continued attention to the reckoning with racism in the U.S. after recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Each seeks to mobilize a base that is likely unpersuadable by the other side given the combination of party polarization and the overwhelmingly negative perceptions that partisans hold of the opposing candidate — but which must be turned out in their respective entireties to maintain parity in the closely dividely country. Yet around the edges, these efforts to fire up partisan supporters can’t alienate the thin share of voters who are either undecided partisans, truly independent, or whose partisan inclination might be shaken by the volatile issues at the intersection of race and policing.
Trump’s efforts to paint Biden as a friend of anarchy and himself as the guarantor of law and order will depend little on the details of city budgets and crime rates, relying instead on predispositions and opinions on visceral issues like race, public safety, and stability. Texans’ attitudes at the intersection of race, policing, and the spectrum stretching from public protests to the meme of “civil unrest” illustrate the likely audiences for the coming efforts by both national presidential campaigns’ attempts to frame recent events to their advantage — the advantage resting in their ability to mobilize their bases while also landing appeals among the narrow band of voters whose votes are still up for grabs.
A set of questions in our 2020 polling illustrates the degree to which Texas partisans are polarized in their views of the systemic effects of racism on policing, of police more generally, and of the protests that emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Governor Abbott reiterated benchmarks for suppressing COVID-19 in Texas, and kept the bars closed which is likely to be very unevenly received among some of his constituents, though a majority likely remains on board with the overall effort. New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released sobering data that buttresses Abbott’s cause among the rationally minded. The Texas Black Legislative Caucus unveiled a legislative plan under the title of the George Floyd Act that would introduce some state-level policing reforms, while Donald Trump was admitting pursuing his own checks on some another uniformed public servants, the US Postal Service, in order to impede voting by mail. And there was big news about fall plans for those interested in college football – and public health. Read on for data and discussion related to these happenings from the week in politics.
The week started with the Comptroller releasing revenue numbers that invited cherry picking by the desperate, manipulative, and just plain inattentive. But they weren’t really very sweet if you looked closely. Governor Abbott held events and press conferences on two separate days as he continued his attempts to manage the COVID-19 crisis and the politics surrounding it, which have not gotten any easier, as illustrated by the fact that he got sued this week by five legislators ostensibly on his team. Those legislators are a thorn in the governor’s side, but the whole affair points to the larger question of whether we can expect to see a less obstructionist, more constructive vision of the role of the legislature restore some balance between the two main branches of government in 2021. Part of the answer to this question depends heavily on the outcome of the 2020 election. Speaking of the election, we very seriously doubt that Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Black voters to take another look at him as a candidate, while claiming that he is more of a civil rights hero than John Lewis, are going to help him move his lopsided numbers among Black Texans.
Amidst growing support for removing Confederate monuments, resistance remains strong in corners of the Texas GOP
UT polls conducted in 2017 and 2020 captured a general shift away from support for leaving these Confederate monuments on public property unaltered, and a shift to majority support for moving them in 2020. Yet within this overall pattern of change suggesting more support for moving the monuments, the makings of significant conflict remain in evidence. There are important differences among different social groups that form along partisan, generational, and racial lines — and significant pockets of opposition seemingly colored by racial animus and a rejection of the otherwise growing recognition of the history and legacy of racism in the U.S. — and in Texas. We examine these findings in detail below, with some discussion following. To summarize: Changes in Texas attitudes have been significant, but the group patterns within these changes suggest that visitors shouldn’t expect to see any empty pedestals or blank wall spaces next time they are allowed to tour the Capitol grounds.
The Second Reading Podcast: Texans Views on Discrimination, Race, Police, and Protests (Recorded July 14, 2020)
Bet you didn't know the Texas Politics Project had a podcast unless you were a UT student.
For this week's Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank continue a mutli-episode discussion of some of the results of the recently released UT/Texas Politics Project poll. Today's show, recorded the morning of Tuesday, July 14, focuses on Texans' opinions on discrimination, race, policing, and the recent protests in response to George Floyd's death and racism in the United States.
The Second Reading Podcast: COVID-19, Race, and Partisanship in the New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll (Recorded July 7, 2020)
Bet you didn't know the Texas Politics Project had a podcast unless you were a UT student.
For this week's Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson and Joshua Blank start what will be a mutli-episode discussion of some of the results of the recently released UT/Texas Politics Project poll. Today's show, recorded the morning of Tuesday, July 7, focused on results related to the COVID-19 pandemic and ponders how to interpret the partisan patterns in attitudes around the pandemic. They also begin discussing some of the results of a battery of questions related to perceptions of discrimination in the U.S., and some of the partisan differences present in those attitudes.
Texans divided by race and party on policing and protests, while overall support rises for Black Lives Matter, moving public Confederate monuments
We released the remaining results of the June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll today, which included a set of questions on attitudes about racial discrimination, policing, and the recent protests focused on both. As we’ve done with other question areas in the poll, we’ve gathered these results to present them with graphics and highlighted some possible points of interest.
June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll reveals that many Texans’ concern about COVID-19 decreased as the pandemic surged in Texas
We released the remaining results of the June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll today, including responses to a large battery of questions on attitudes toward the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic that reveal how Texans’ concerns about COVID-19 decreased even as the pandemic was surging in Texas in late June (the survey was conducted between June 19-29). The overall decline in concern was evident in both attitudes and reported behaviors. In most measures, Republicans as a group convey lower levels of concern about vulnerability to COVID-19 and its effects, and report following public health guidliness for slowing the spread of the pandemic at lower rates than do Democrats and politicial independents.