Keyword: Ted Cruz
With citizens in 13 states, including Texas, voting today in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, many are expecting the particulars of the nominating races to become a lot clearer by later this evening – or at the very least, by early tomorrow morning – to the delight and, depending on the outcome, chagrin of many in both parties. While there's no shortage of sub-narratives and important secondary questions to be poured over in the days and weeks ahead (including in this very blog), the overarching questions for each party are rather simple.
While we found the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll chock full of fascinating results on attitudes toward issues that illuminate much of the recent political discussion in the 2016 races in both Texas and the U.S., with the Texas primary coming up Tuesday it seems appropriate to look at some of the undercurrents of the results from the trial ballots in the presidential nominating contests, including Cruz's standing with extremely conservative voters as well as some slippage in his standing, the Clinton-Sanders race, Texans' views of outsiders, and more.
With Donald Trump seemingly headed toward big wins in both the South Carolina and Nevada primaries and Texas’ proportional representation primary less than two weeks away, the magnitude of Ted Cruz’s strength in Texas, and its geographic distribution, loom as major factors on Super Tuesday. Technically, Super Tuesday actually got underway in Texas on Monday, when early voting for the primary election started. Guns were back in the news this week as another private university took advantage of the campus-carry opt-out privilege accorded private institutions even as the University of Texas at Austin begrudgingly announced its policy, which reflected the legislature’s concerted effort to force public universities to allow guns in classrooms. The legislature continued its vision of protecting Constitutional guarantees Wednesday when the Senate State Affairs Committee held a hearing on their interim charge to protect sincerely held religious beliefs from the depredations of government. At several points in that hearing, the testimony flared into the kind of vituperative opposition to gay and lesbian rights that would have pleased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over the weekend near Marfa. The stakes of choosing Scalia’s successor on the high court couldn’t be higher, including among Republicans whose faith in the court was shaken by the court’s decisions affirming gay marriage and the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – decisions from which Justice Scalia dissented with characteristic color.
The Texas political world is all in a tizzy this week after Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, using a combination of evangelical support, streamlined political science, crack campaign organization, and, of course, charm. Seems a sure thing that Marco Rubio will make a play in Texas, and to this end he announced his “Texas Leadership Team". Speaking of wanting to lead, aspiring Texas GOP-chair Jared Woodfill announced while on his day job that his client, the fake fetal tissue dealer David Daleiden of Planned-Parenthood-sting-gone-wrong fame, would not take a plea deal offered by the Harris County DA, presumably at least in part to use the trial as a forum to air his views on abortion (after all, he’s an activist). For those who really want the inside baseball on abortion politics, theDallas Morning News took a good look at the competing anti-abortion groups in Texas, pegging the story of dueling defenders of all things life to their taking sides in the fight between Pro-Straus and anti-Straus forces in the GOP primary. Their struggle inspired us to include a bonus video.
In the aftermath of Sen. Ted Cruz's narrow first place finish in the Iowa Republican caucuses, we've gathered up some different survey results capturing attitudes toward Sen. Cruz in the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. Start with the trend graphics of his favorability ratings between May 2012 and November 2015, then have a look at his favorability ratings and job approval numbers from the most recent poll in November. There are 58 graphics – and you can download them in different formats, too.
When Comptroller Glenn Hegar assured the Senate Finance Committee that he would “much rather be in this state than the other 49 states in this nation,” Dallas Senator Royce West captured the underlying tension in the Senate’s engagement with the economy, budget prospects, and taxes when he cracked back, “I just don’t want to be in a state of denial.” The finance committee’s worry about what the budget might look like was little in evidence the next day when the Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief convened in San Antonio to wave a red flag on local taxation. The Senate State Affairs Committee explored how the state is muddling through implementation of the state’s new gun laws, while over on the House side, Republicans flipped a seat in the HD118 special election, triggering Democratic dismay and some public self-loathing. A Houston grand jury propelled Texas into the national headlines after reviewing the case of the surreptitiously filmed attempt to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood and indicting the fraudulent would-be tissue peddlers rather than anyone at Planned Parenthood. Way back at the beginning of the week, Rick Perry also got back in the national news for about half a news cycle after leaking to Politico (take that, state press corps) that he would be endorsing Ted Cruz. Perry revealed that he apparently doesn’t know Cruz real well, but he former governor reported that the endorsement comes after they “spent some very appropriate time together."
While Rick Perry’s national stature among Republicans has never been the same since the unfortunate demise of his 2012 presidential nomination bid, it nonetheless has some meaning in the midst of the GOP candidates’ efforts to put together a winning coalition of both GOP voters and party elites.
The saga of sanctuary city politics continued in Texas this week, with the issue being used to attack candidates in at least three Republican primary races in the Texas House: the HD-8 contest between incumbent Byron Cook and challenger Thomas McNutt, and in the races in the districts of both Speaker Joe Straus and Rep. Charlie Geren. Friday afternoon, a story in the Texas Tribune suggested that Texas cities account for only a tiny share of undocumented arrestees not held in custody for deportation nationally. You’d never know it by these campaigns – or by looking at either the Texas Legislature or public attitudes on sanctuary cities, for that matter. Nationally, the president gave a State of the Union Address that was part victory lap and part attempt to shape the tone of the 2016 campaign season, with some taunting thrown in for sport (mainly his). And there was another GOP presidential debate, in which Ted Cruz and Donald Trump went at like they were scrapping for the One Ring. We’ll leave it to you to figure out who the other candidates were in that reference.
The immediate question about the mutually reinforcing phenomena of Cruz’s recent success in the polls and the attendant media attention he has received is whether Cruz is emerging from the pack to become a real contender for the GOP nomination.
The prominent role of a Syrian who was likely never really a refugee, but masqueraded as one to reach Paris in order to play his terrible role there, has created the rhetorical space for a new variation on the immigration and border security trope that appeals to a broad section of Republican voters. The Paris attacks will clearly make national security and counter-terrorism more salient for now – and there was a significant portion of the GOP that saw terrorism as salient before the attack. But the quick incorporation of immigration as a central component of the national GOP response to Paris makes it unlikely that counter-terrorism will gain enough intensity to dislodge immigration in the gut reactions of GOP primary voters. The speed with which this incorporation has occurred suggests that, in fact, it may reinforce these reactions – and their impact on the GOP presidential race.