Union Column: Analysis: Texas Politicians Think What They Think Their Voters Think They Should Think | Opinion

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It is all the rage to complain about polls, but they can reveal voters’ sentiment and sometimes reveal why elected officials act the way they do.

You might be wondering why the state’s top leaders supported restrictive election laws, ordered audits of the elections they won, and passed laws that go against what most Texans think they are. good abortion or firearms policy.

You may or may not like this answer: these elected officials do what they think their constituents expect.

Not all voters. Their constituents.

It is all the rage to complain about polls, but they can reveal voters’ sentiment and sometimes reveal why elected officials act the way they do.

When former President Donald Trump, who remains popular with Republican voters in Texas, pushes Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to do something – and does so publicly – it’s risky for Abbott to ignore it.

Trump’s public demand for an audit of the 2020 Texas election results – an election in which he beat Joe Biden by 5.5 percentage points – prompted a swift response: Texas said it would conduct a “full forensic audit” of the elections in Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties. Trump won at Collin. Biden won in Dallas and Harris. The Democrat also won in Tarrant County, but only by 1,826 votes out of 834,697, according to the Office of the Secretary of State, Texas’s main election agency.

That year’s Texas election got “soft and secure” reassurance from then Secretary of State Ruth Hughes, and no one found evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. 2020.

Look at the polls. In an August survey by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, Republicans were much more skeptical than Democrats about the quality of the election.

While 68% of Democrats said they believed ineligible voters voted “never” or “rarely,” 67% of Republicans said illegal votes were cast “sometimes” or “frequently”. Likewise, 91% of Democratic voters in this survey said the official U.S. election results were “very” or “somewhat” accurate, while 68% of Republican voters in Texas said those results were “somewhat” or “Very” inaccurate.

Figures like these offer not-so-subtle clues as to why the Republican majority in the Legislature has followed Abbott in support of restrictive elections and voting bill under the slogan of “integrity. election “which Democrats say would make it more difficult for people of color to vote. .

But another survey, the University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll in June, adds some context to the governor’s willingness to examine the ashes of the 2020 election. In that poll, voters’ opinions on Trump were even broadly – 47 % favorable, 47% unfavorable. But 86% of Texas Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump, and those are the people who vote in the GOP primaries, where Abbott will run for re-election next year. Democrats, as one would expect, had a strongly unfavorable opinion (91%) of the former president.

Considering Trump’s request, Abbott is sticking to voters who broadly support the former president. He also leaves no space between himself and the state’s most popular Republican.

A new state law allows most adults to carry handguns without a license or training, a proposition that 57% of Texans oppose in this June UT / TT poll and supported by 36% in the United States. together. Calculate the numbers, however, and you can see the sentiments of Republican voters from the majority of Texas lawmakers: 59% support unlicensed porterage, while 86% of Democrats oppose it.

When asked in this UT / TT poll if they would support “Making abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy except in a medical emergency,” voters were divided, 44% in favor, 46% versus. The proposal is now one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the country – a law that makes abortion illegal in Texas after heart pulses are evident, typically at around six weeks – and is being challenged in court. But the poll offers a clear view of what lawmakers saw: While just 15% of Democrats said they would support the six-week limit, 74% of Republicans supported it.

The legislature too, with just two Democrats joining all Republicans in favor.

And some people think politicians don’t read polls.

Ross Ramsey is editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Prior to joining the Tribune, he was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. It can be emailed to [email protected]


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