National and state politics converge this week with the simultaneous visits of President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump to the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday. Trump will appear in Eagle Pass, the site of ongoing tension between state and federal law enforcement agencies deployed to manage the increased flow of migrants into the U.S., while Biden will visit Brownsville.
In a new Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson, Josh Blank, and Daron Shaw discuss the what results from the just-released University of Texas/Texas Politics Project statewide poll might tell us about primary elections in the state as early voter begins.
The 2024 primary elections in Texas are among the most contested and the most heated of any legislative primaries since the establishment of the near-monopoly of state government after the Republican sweep of the 2002 elections. Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have all waded into GOP primary contests with endorsements, campaign resources, and very hot rhetoric in multiple House races, opposing an unprecedented number of Republican incumbents.
In a new Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson talks with Ross Ramsey, co-founder and former executive editor of The Texas Tribune, about the reverberations in Texas f Donald Trump's presumed return as the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.
In a new Second Reading podcast, Jim Henson and Josh Blank discuss the convergence of national and Texas politics in the current national focus on immigration and border security.
December UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: After long legislative session, Texas voters have not-so-great expectations
After a bruising 2023 legislative session extended by four special sessions, Texas voters continue to convey little confidence in legislative efforts to address key problems in the state such as the reliability of the grid, public school safety, and improved border security, according to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll conducted in early December. When asked about their support for key legislative priorities during the session, the issues deemed most important by the largest shares of voters were areas in which the legislature either failed to pass significant legislation or achieved mixed results.
Revisiting Texas attitudes on immigration and border security as Abbott doubles down in McAllen with Donald Trump
As the Thanksgiving holiday and the expiration date of a fourth special session of the Texas Legislature draw near, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican legislative majority are close to enacting a new batch of legislation related to immigrants and border security that yet again push the boundaries of both the U.S. Constitution and historical norms around the treatment of migrants and immigrants in the U.S.. Expect the new legal and rhetorical boundaries (or lack thereof) around “securing the border” to be on full display when Gov. Abbott and Donald Trump stage a joint visit to McAllen this weekend, where Abbott is expected to endorse Trump’s bid to return to the White House and the two are expected to discuss “future plans for curbing illegal immigration.”
Even as people who work in the Texas Capitol continue to obsess about the death match over school choice playing out in the legislature in the final days of the special session, it should be no surprise that Republicans from Trump and Abbott down to legislative backbenchers all view immigration and border security as their political lifelines after a bruising year of unprecedented political infighting. With the prospects of delivering an ESA/voucher/choice bill still too close to call amidst continued resistance in the Texas House, there's no denying the political logic of keeping immigration and border security on the legislative agenda, which sustain Republican campaigns in both primary and general election campaigns more than any other policy issues.
Special Session agenda inflames intraparty GOP voucher conflict, while tapping into broad Republican consensus on border, immigration, COVID, and vaccines
Gov. Greg Abbott’s much-anticipated agenda for the third Special session of the 88th Legislature delivered the expected calls for action on vouchers and items related to immigration and border security, with the addition of another nod to the concerns of the right wing of his party, legislation prohibiting COVID-19 vaccines by private employers.
Confronting the voucher issue yet again – unavoidable as a result of campaign promises, elite politics with the Texas GOP (especially involving the governor and lieutenant governor), and the deep pockets of a small but persistent group of large donors – promises to stoke the already-raging internecine conflicts among Republicans in the legislature. The remaining items – focused on immigration and border security issues and the retro-feeling COVID vaccine item – will intentionally remind Republicans that there are plenty of things that unite the mostly extreme-right activists who are most fired up about vouchers (and the injustices meted out to Attorney General Paxton) and the less activated Republican voters (and elected officials, for that matter) who are less attentive to, let alone motivated by, either vouchers or the Paxton imbroglio.
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."
Latest UT/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texas Republicans’ support for Donald Trump unwavering amidst multiple indictments
As the 2024 race for the Republican nomination begins to take shape, the August 2023 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texas Republicans’ continued support for former president Donald Trump evident in several results ranging from general assessments to attitudes toward the criminal indictments against him, the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, and beliefs about the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of the former president.
The poll also contained questions about attitudes in major issues on the public agenda in Texas, including public education, immigration and border policy, business engagement of public policy issues, and expectations about property tax rates. It also asked about Texans’ perceptions of discrimination in the U.S., their attention to major issues recently in the news media, and their assessment of various sources of potential threats to the United States. Selected results are presented below – more detailed discussion of results will follow in the coming weeks.