Joshua Blank

Reconciling Backing the Blue with the Right to Bear Arms

April 21, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Texas House of Representatives’ passage last Friday of HB 1927, a bill that would effectively allow for the unlicensed carry of handguns in most public places in Texas, was quickly followed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s comments to the press this week that, as of now, there isn’t enough support in the Texas Senate to act on the bill. In the wake of some police organizations’ high-profile opposition to allowing unlicensed and untrained gun owners to carry weapons in public places (which didn’t persuade the House majority), Patrick’s public decision to push the pause button in part reflects a tension between two prominent themes of recent Republican election campaigns: the promise to “back the blue,” a ubiquitous refrain of campaigns up and down the ballot in 2020, and the full-throated defense of an ever-expansive view of the Second Amendment.

Texas Republicans take a hard right turn on guns, but who’s behind the wheel?

April 19, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

With the Texas House of Representatives’ passage of HB 1927, which would enable most Texans over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in public without training or a permit, Texas is in line to become by far the most populous, most urban, and so the most significant state to enact a policy that only a few years ago was seen as a fringe (or at least a longshot) conservative cause, even among the state’s long-hegemonic Republicans. While one might be tempted to embrace the views of social media conservatives that the majority has finally exerted its will over the feckless RINOs and sell-outs in the Texas Republican Party, public opinion data reveals that the opposite is playing out in the legislature on gun policy: the aggressive minority of conservatives is, for the moment, driving the agenda on guns. 

Texans see multiple causes of February’s winter storm outages, support many of the changes being discussed by the Texas Legislature

April 1, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The results of a March poll developed in conjunction with a team of researchers at the UT Energy Institute asked dozens of questions about Texans’ experience during the winter storm, their attitudes toward causes and consequences of the storm, their views of, and expectations about, possible policy responses, and their views of how a wide range of actors from their neighbors and utility providers to state political leaders, regulatory bodies, and corporate actors. 

Some #TxLege-focused takeaways from the new Texas Politics Project / UT Energy Institute Poll

April 1, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While our joint venture with colleagues at the UT Energy Institute focused primarily on research questions related to Texans’ experiences during the winter storm and the infrastructure outages that followed, the results also provide rich context for the legislative wrangling over the appropriate policy response(s) to the storm and the multidimensional politics surrounding it. The data is fresh and there’s more drilling down to be done, but here are some initial impressions, with more to come after the holiday break. You can find all the results and hundreds of graphics on our latest poll page, and if you want to take a look at the questionnaire and topline results or take your own deep dive into the crosstabs (or even the data itself), it can all be found in our polling data archive.

Depends what you mean by “integrity"

March 25, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

"Election integrity" legislation proposed by the majority party this session as well as the rhetoric used to justify their proposals illustrate that Republicans have not completely ignored their critics or the lack of evidence of voter fraud that has long accompanied their efforts. This session's rhetorical justifications and proposals tap into two central sets of attitudes among Republican voters that deflect attention away from the general lack of evidence of widespread election irregularities: the ideas that the current system makes it too easy to vote, and the lingering skepticism of election results cultivated by Donald Trump before, during, and after his presidency.

With or without masks, immigration and border security rally the Texas Republican base

March 12, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

It took a lethal pandemic that has killed more than 46,000 Texans to temporarily distract Texas Republicans from their persistent preoccupation with immigration and border security. But the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll shows that as yet another migrant crisis emerges on the Texas border with a Democratic President seeking to take action on U.S. immigration policy, the nativism that defined Republican politics for the last decade is again rising to the surface among the Republican base.

Changing perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year of University of Texas Polling

March 10, 2021
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

With the release of the February 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, the Texas Politics Project makes its fourth assessment of Texans’ attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic. The time series allows reporters, researchers, elected leaders, public health officials, and the public a view of how Texans’ concerns about COVID, behaviors during the pandemic, and evaluations of the official responses have changed throughout nearly a year of polling.

February 2021 UT/Texas Tribune Poll finds familiar partisanship in attitudes toward leaders, differences in views of elections in the U.S. and in Texas

February 26, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Texas Tribune published the first batch of results from the February 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll today, which included job approval and favorability ratings for state and national leaders as well as snapshots of Texas attitudes toward the accuracy of elections.

The Elephant in the Room: Texas Republicans Were Pretty Trumpy Before Trump

January 22, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

After four years of most major Texas Republican elected officials kowtowing to Donald Trump out of a mixture of deference and fear, Texas Republicans now seek paths for moving forward in his turbulent wake. They are in a different position than their national counterparts vis-a-vis Trump’s exit and how the experience of his presidency is to be incorporated into both the party’s identity and Republican elected officials’ political strategies. Trump has left the national party bereft, having lost the White House and presided over the GOP relegation to minority status in both houses of Congress (albeit narrowly in the Senate). But Republicans still reign in Texas, and are in a better position to navigate post-Trump politics than their national counterparts.

The key to understanding Texas Republican political leaders advantage is the fact that many invoked the central elements of Trump’s appeal in their rhetoric and policies long before Trump was a presidential candidate. Texas Republican voters respond positively to these themes, and, based on what years of Texas public opinion data tell us about their attitudes, a good chunk of them can be expected to continue responding to them even if Trump is not the one doing the articulating. 

Five Snapshots from the Opening week of the Texas Legislature (Plus One)

January 15, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Even as unprecedented challenges to the Constiutional order unfold in national politics, the policial world in Texas was focused on the convening of the 87th Texas Legislature in Austin amidst a surging pandemic, a faltering economy, and shockwaves of Donald Trump's political imposion rippling through Republican Party politics at all levels. Here are five snapshots from the week the legislature came back to town.

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