No one is surprised that Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted today to clear the way for Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the United States Supreme Court, and will vote in his favor tomorrow when the Senate takes the final vote. In the meantime, polling data from the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll illuminates, at least in part, why Senators Cornyn and Cruz would support Kavanaugh even as temperament and forthrightness with Senate, and questions about his past became ever more problematic. A more thorough analysis will require new, more focused data. But in the meantime, the data at hand provide context for why the Texas Senators followed the party line once the responses to the accusations against Kavanaugh intersected with the seemingly ever-escalating partisan environment. From perceptions of discrimination to the #metoo movement to attitudes toward the court, the attitudinal landscape in Texas is marked by deeply opposed, partisan frames of references on some of the fundamental questions raised by Kavanaugh hearing and his and his defenders' responses to the objections raised to his confirmation.
The Public Opinion Context in Texas of the Kavanaugh Confirmation, Sexual Assault Charges Against Him, and Ted Cruz’s Role in the Coming Senate Hearings
Amidst talk (though uneven evidence) of Ted Cruz’s possible vulnerability among women in the suburbs and of a lack of enthusiasm for Cruz overall, as well as comparatively more demonstrable gender differences in attitudes related to sexual harassment and assault, the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh pose political hazards for Ted Cruz should there be new hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the present atmosphere of partisan polarization on both Kavanaugh’s nomination and gender politics, Cruz must walk a narrow and somewhat unfamiliar path – one that requires moderation of his usual temperament.
We revisit key aspects of the relevant landscape of attitudes in Texas below. Multiple results on relevant subjects from University of Texas/Texas Tribune polling illustrate just how narrow this path is in the Texas electorate, who will start early voting in about a month. (This post was slightly revised 20 September 2018 at 3:10 PM to reflect new developments, including data on Texans' views of the FBI.)
Even under extremely rosy circumstances, O'Rourke needs BOTH a momentous shift in voter sentiment, AND a momentous shift in Democratic turnout: possible, but still not probable.
Over the last week and a half, the Ted Cruz campaign and its allies have stepped up their negative attacks against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke (though with a bit of a stumble out of the blocks). The Cruz campaign’s blows against Beto have gotten both tougher and more voluminous as the campaign sees close public (and perhaps internal?) poll numbers and, within that polling, a large share of Republican voters seemingly unaware of the threat to their party’s hegemony skateboarding their way.
Trends in Partisan Ideological Identification in Texas Illuminate McCain's Past, Trump's Present, O'Rourke's Future
Today, we took great interest in the Tweet below by Carroll Doherty at the Pew Research Center, highlighting increasing conservative identification among Republican voters over the timespan between John McCain's first presidential campaign in 2000 and today. Pew's data show conservative idenfitication in the GOP increasing by 12 points, from 56 percent to 68 percent. The Pew data got us wondering about whether these trends manifest themselves in Texas, so we pulled together polling data from over 30 University of Texas / Texas Tribune polls to see if and how ideological identification in Texas has changed since 2008 (the inaugural year of our data). The data series is represented in the graphics below.
The implementation by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) of an A-F school rating system has been a matter of heated debate since the idea was introduced in Texas, a debate that has been reignited by the release of the first round of district grades by the TEA on August 15. Wherever one falls in the wisdom or usefulness of the much-debated system, the idea was to provide information for parents, the public, and policy makers. To this end, we created Google maps below to make it easy to look up the ratings of Texas schools, along with contextual information for each one.
In an increasingly familiar dynamic in the election for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke is gaining glowing reviews from a national audience on social media and in the press for his explanation of his view that NFL players taking a knee are not disrespectful to the flag or to veterans and service members. But as in other episodes in O’Rourke’s campaign, the reception in Texas is likely to be much more ambiguous, given what we know about public attitudes in the state toward the NFL protests.
This post will be updated regularly to reflect the release of new public polls.
Most recent update: 10/24/18
Indictments of Russians Land Amidst Strong Partisan Views in Texas of Russian Meddling, Donald Trump Connection, Mueller
Among Texas voters, there is a now well established pattern in which views of even some of the basic facts of the Mueller investigation — like whether it has uncovered any crimes (it has) — appear heavily influenced by partisanship. As the Mueller investigation and Russian interference in the election hit the headlines once again, we round up relevant results for University of Texas / Texas Tribune polling (which largely resemble national results on similar items).
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll has asked numerous questions about abortion over the last 10 years, including a now-consistent item on whether or not Texas voters view themselves as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Overall, according to June 2018 UT/TT polling data, 44 percent of Texas voters describe themselves as pro-life while 39 percent describe themselves a pro-choice. There are, of course, unsurprising partisan differences. Among the state’s majority party, Republicans overwhelmingly describe themselves as pro-life (68 percent), about equal to the share of Democrats who describe themselves as pro-choice (66 percent).
But these broad labels, like the topic of abortion itself, hide complexities likely to shape the electoral environment that Democrats and Republicans will confront should the Fall be spent on the confirmation of a justice expected to overturn, or severely curtail abortion rights.