In Texas, as with the rest of the country, we are starting to see a pronounced shift towards team blue in the culture wars. The topline numbers would suggest a struggle in November but the internals are more suggestive of positive room to grow and pull off the upset. Clearly the days of Republican power in Texas are politically dwindling.
First of all, the topline is meh, at 49-41 Abbott. But I think a lot of this is a knee jerk response. For some time Texas independents have leaned more conservative as a whole, but the issue by issue deep dive shows an electorate more maleable and perhaps swingable.
What seems to be holding Beto back is the national environment surrounding the economy. As I have said and continue to believe, as gas prices drop, inflation cools, and normalcy returns to housing prices, I believe that the President is poised for a big jump in approval. I look for him to get into the mid-40’s by fall, which as angry as this country is right now, is not bad.
Ok, enough burying the lede. The numbers in Texas that knocked me out of my chair were these:
About eight in 10 Texans are concerned about more mass shootings in Texas like the one in Uvalde, including almost half who are “very concerned.” Women express more concern than men do. Latino and Black people in Texas are more likely than White people to be very concerned about a mass shooting.
Texans broadly support background checks and having a minimum age of at least 21. There is majority backing for a “red flag” law in Texas and a ban on the AR-15, but more division among Texans on these measures.
61 percent of Texans support an outright ban of the AR-15 rifle. A ban. Not moderate restrictions, not weak-tea regulations, a ban. In Texas. Now granted, this is one data point, but in this number includes 53 percent of males and 54 percent of independents.
There are other notable results in here as well regarding abortion. 41 percent of Texans agree with how Abbott is handling abortion, including just 36 percent of independents. So where is Abbott getting his 49 percent from? Independents back him by 55-30. This is curious, to say the least. They only give him 44 percent approval on the economy, 39 percent on guns, and 25 percent on gas prices.
One thing he has managed to do is separate gas prices from the economy, in that he maintains 50 percent approval on the economy even weighed down by a 27 percent approval on gas prices. There is a certain loyalty to Reaganomics in Texas, however, and this is evident in the north Texas suburbs from my experience.
Takeways? I believe that the President’s approval is thankfully, not centered around personal animosity, so unlike Trump, a strong recovery is possible. In swingy areas, I believe there is more likely to be an anti-incumbent bent more than an anti- one party bent. It is important to point out that many of the most popular politicians in the country, even in this climate, are Democratic governors.
So it may well be that the proliferation of online sourcing of information at the expense of cable television is a good thing for our side. In states where the Democrats are doing relatively well, there is no weight burden from the President. In fact, it seems a lot of the problem with independents the administration is having is from not being aggressive enough.
So can Beto O’ Rourke win? He certainly can. He has to break through the Reagan wall in places like Collin and Denton counties to do so, and this will largely come down to if Texans are more concerned about their personal rights and gun safety than an historic loyalty to conservative economic policies. One place to examine the electorate’s appetite for change is in hammering on Trump’s ill-advised tariffs. The Biden administration has long believed inflation was tied to those but so far has not done a great job of getting that message out.
Lifting Trump-era tariffs is one of the few things President Joe Biden could do to slow inflation — but that doesn’t mean Americans would immediately notice a drop in prices if he took that action.
So far, Biden has resisted pressure from many in the American business community to lift the tariffs that his predecessor imposed on $350 billion of Chinese goods — including bicycles, baseball caps and sneakers — during a tit-for-tat trade war.
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