Second Reading Podcast: An odd rejection in the Texas Constitutional Amendment election as the Texas Legislature tries again in a 4th Special Session
Texas voters affirm most of the legislature's Constitutional Amendments , but GOP disagreements simmer on in yet another special session. Jim Henson and Joshua Blank look at results from the off-year election in Texas and the U.S., and ponder legislative politics as yet another special session gets underway.
Second Reading Podcast: Texas public opinion toward vouchers and Ken Paxton in the latest UT/Texas Politics Project Poll
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank look at Texans' views of vouchers as the legislature remains at an impasse on the issue, and discuss what the latest UT/Texas Politics Project Poll reveals about views of Ken Paxton as his securities fraud trial begins in Houston.
New UT/ Texas Politics Project Poll: Trump still dominates presidential race in Texas, no movement on vouchers, and signs of a Paxton recovery among Republicans
With one year to go before the 2024 presidential election, the latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds former president Donald Trump dominating a crowded Republican primary field and holding a comfortable lead in a hypothetical re-match with President Joe Biden, who faces no serious competition in the Democratic primary so far. The poll also asked Texans about educational savings accounts and other public education issues at the center of the third special session of the 88th Texas Legislature currently underway in Austin. The poll found a modest majority, 51%, supportive of “establishing a voucher, educational savings account, or other ‘school choice’ program in Texas,” with slightly less than a third, 30%, opposed, and 19% holding no opinion. The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll was conducted October 5-17, 2023, among 1200 self-declared registered voters in Texas. The margin error for topline results is +/- 2.83% (3.3% adjusted for weighting).
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank discuss how Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's special session agenda taps into the GOP primary electorate, and look at the latest hostilities between Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan.
As another special session begins, GOP primary politics, not popular demand, keep vouchers on the agenda
After the repeated failures of the Republican legislature to pass voucher legislation throughout their two decades of total control of the state’s political process, the GOP leadership’s determination to focus efforts yet again on creating a voucher bill invites attention to one of the many challenges still facing the legislature in its latest attempt: it’s lack of importance to most voters.
Second Reading Podcast: Republican politics in the Texas Legislature as the third special session nears
Jim Henson and Joshua Blank look at the internecine politics of the Texas GOP and the calculations of the Big Three with the legislature set to begin the long-awaited "voucher session" – and consider the GOP meltdown in the US House as context for the looming session, set to begin Monday October 9.
Amid divisions on Paxton and vouchers, border security remains the great Republican unifier in Texas
Within hours of the Texas Senate’s acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott’s statement on the verdict added one more exhibit supporting the argument that politics as usual were triumphant in the wake of the historic impeachment battle. Abbott’s statement was noticeably brief, in absolute terms and especially compared to the detailed statements issued by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick from the dais immediately after the Senate voted, and by Speaker of the House Dade Phelan in quick response. But the pithy sentence that capped Abbott’s (very) measured praise of Paxton spoke volumes with just a few words: “I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach."
As they struggle to claim the cloak of public approval for their respective causes, advocates both for and against voucher or voucher-like programs will resume a familiar pattern (at least to non-partisan pollsters) of praising or criticizing public opinion polling that either supports or undermines their efforts to claim public support. In doing so, both sides will heavily rely on the same argument when responding to survey results they don’t like, to the effect of: well, wouldn’t the results have been different if you had asked that question differently? Yes. The results would be different if you asked a different question – because it’s a different question.
Results from the February 2023 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll provides evidence of how the pandemic, the wide propagation of the trope of “woke education,” and the patterns in the state’s rapid population growth have converged to sharpen the terms of long-fought battles, while also shifting the terrain upon which these battles are being fought. The current surge in rhetoric and political action based on notions like “parental rights” and the prevalence of “woke education” have provided potential means for overcoming the resistance of a sizable faction of Republican legislators and the demonstrated ambivalence of voters toward state support for private education that “school choice” advocates have historically been unable to overcome in the legislature.
While there is plenty of subtext to Gov. Greg Abbott’s state of the state address, the topline takeaways are the items designated as emergencies by the governor, qualifying them for consideration prior to the constitutional prohibition on passing bills during the first 60 days of the legislative session. We posted a lot of public opinion data as broad context going into the governor’s speech, but the unveiling of the much-anticipated emergency items enables a closer look at the public opinion context of the governor’s priorities in his efforts to shape the legislative agenda.