Texas takes center stage on voting changes, abortion, guns
What a week. Again. The Texas Legislature moved several bills that pushed some very hot buttons and are gaining a lot of statewide and national attention (along, of course, with yet another mass shooting in Texas, this time in Bryan). At the top of the list is voting legislation, especially SB7 and HB6, the Senate and House election “integrity” bills, though abortion, guns, criminal justice and (less controversially, though no less hard fought under the dome) utility and education bills also generated heat this week. We’ve summarized a few quick data points drawn from our recent polling for you to consider with links to more data should you want to take a deeper dive into public opinion on any of these issues.
On voting and elections. In February 2021 polling, 76% of Texas Republicans said that Texas Election results are very or somewhat accurate; 76% think it is “very easy” to vote in the state; and 46% want those laws made more strict, with a nearly equal share, 44% who would leave the laws for voting alone. Our polling data archive has dozens more results from voting- and election-related attitudes.
On abortion. The Texas Senate this week passed a “trigger bill” that would ban abortion in Texas should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, currently with no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. While February 2021 polling found 54% of Republicans in favor of making current abortion laws more strict than they are now, only 21% would restrict abortion in all cases. Our polling data archive contains results on multiple facets of abortion attitude over several years.
On guns. The Legislature also continued its efforts to make Texas what Gov. Abbott has called a “second amendment sanctuary state” the same week that president Biden announced a series of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, both within hours of the mass shooting in Bryan. In February 2020, Texans were split when asked if the U.S. would be safer or less safe if more people owned guns (37% more safe; 39% less safe), but 67% of Republicans said that increased gun ownership would increase safety. Our polling data archive contains several repeated items for exploring trends in attitudes as well as results on specific proposals.
(If you’re curious about attitudes on other issues that interest you or might help at work or school, our search tool that ranges over almost all of the polling we’ve done since 2008 can help.)
Right before the holiday weekend we released the results of a March poll of registered voters in Texas, conducted with a collaborative team of researchers at UT’s Energy Institute, on their experience of the winter storm, their evaluations of what happened and how elected officials as well as public and private entities performed, and support for the legislative solutions currently on offer. All of this data is currently available at our latest poll page, as is some analysis focused on issues related to the storm and the infrastructure problems it revealed, as well as some more legislatively relevant analysis.
And while that poll was focused primarily on the February storm, we also included our usual array of approval ratings of Texas leaders as well as some items checking in again on attitudes and behaviors in response to the pandemic, including approval of Gov. Abbott’s lifting of his statewide mask order and relaxation of statewide restrictions on businesses.
We also got back on the podcast train this week. Josh Blank and I discussed the results of the winter storm survey (and the politics surrounding it) in our Second Reading Podcast. You can find that and past episodes as well as subscribe to the Second Reading podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify,and Stitcher.
Have a safe and enjoyable weekend. And get some rest if you need it – you know who you are.
Executive Director, The Texas Politics Project
Department of Government / College of Liberal Arts
The University of Texas at Austin
Twitter: @jamesrhenson, @TxPolProject