Trib polling roundup, part 2

The issues polling is mostly on our side, for what that’s worth.

A solid majority of Texas voters don’t think adults should be allowed to carry handguns in public places without permits or licenses, though the idea is popular with a 56% majority of Republicans. Overall, 59% oppose unlicensed carry — a number driven up by the 85% of Democrats who oppose it. On the Republican side, the gun questions revealed a gender gap. Among Republican men, 70% said they support unlicensed carry; 49% of Republican women oppose that position.

More people carrying guns would make the United States safer, according to 34% of Texas voters, while 39% said that would make the country less safe. Another 16% said more armed Texans would have “no impact on safety.”

Almost half of Texas voters (46%) would make gun laws stricter, while 30% would leave them alone and 20% would loosen them. The partisan lines were sharp: 85% of Democrats would make gun laws stricter, while 53% of Republicans would leave them as they are and another 29% would loosen them. That GOP gender gap appeared again here: 20% of Republican women would make gun laws more strict, while only 10% of GOP men would; 19% of Republican women would loosen those laws, while 41% of GOP men would.

Three-fourths of the state’s voters believe Texas should require criminal and mental background checks before any gun sales, including those at gun shows and private transactions. Only 18% oppose such checks.

“A lot of the [legislative] agenda right now seems at odds with public opinion,” said James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. He said Republican lawmakers are pursuing some ideas that “come from the most conservative wing of the majority party.


Most Texans (54%) oppose automatically banning all abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade — what’s known as a “trigger” law that would take effect in the event of such a ruling — but about a third would support a ban.

Nearly half of the state’s voters (49%) support making abortions illegal after 6 weeks — except in the case of a medical emergency. That includes the support of 74% of Republicans. Among Democrats, 67% oppose the idea.

For all of that, there’s no consensus about changing the state’s current abortion laws: 33% would make them stricter, 33% would make them less strict and 22% would leave them alone. The partisan break is evident in those answers, too: 55% of Republicans would tighten the state’s abortion laws and 63% of Democrats would loosen them.

See here for part 1, and here for polling data. These numbers are consistent with the results we have gotten from UT-Tyler and from Data for Progress. It’s good to get more data, but the bottom line remains that 1) people’s voting behavior doesn’t always line up with their stated policy preferences, and 2) until Democrats start winning more elections in Texas, the Republicans have no incentive to back off from their only-popular-with-the-wingnuts agenda. I think there’s a lot here to campaign on, but that’s just the beginning. There’s a lot of work to be done.

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10 Responses to Trib polling roundup, part 2

  1. Kibitzer says:


    Re: “Most Texans (54%) oppose automatically banning all abortions in Texas.”

    This is a perfect illustration of how our quality journalists need to be watched, and have their biases exposed when they lead to errors like this.

    Since when does 54% amount to *most*?

    By the same logic, most Texans are Republicans because that’s a typical win margin in a statewide races. In 2020, 52.1% voted for Trump.

    Okay, so 52% does not equal 54% (even though in the semantic world of quality journalists the 54% percentage figure is properly denoted as “most”).

    In this poll, the margin or error for the sample is estimated to be at 3.7% (after various procedures designed to correct for the nonrandom nature of the sample, including matching and weighting). So, the 52.1% Trump-margin would be well within the confidence interval for the response breakdown on the abortion question in the UT-TT poll. The true statistic for registered voters could possibly be a “slim” majority. Given the question wording — which invites rejection of the most extreme policy position on abortion — a slim majority is arguably a surprisingly low percentage.

    Bottom line in terms of prescription: Mind the data and use words to describe quantitative results consistently, even if it doesn’t accord with what you *want to be* true. (The quality of the poll is an entirely separate issue, and is here assumed).


    Nor is the abortion-ban question the only one that should raise eyebrows about how polling data is being manhandled by media professionals.

    On May 4, The Trib. headlined as follows: “Texas voters are as concerned about border security as about the pandemic, UT/TT Poll finds”

    Here is what the cross-tabulation actually shows:

    Coronavirus/COVID: 16 Percent
    Political Corruption/leadership: 13
    Immigration: 10 Percent
    Gun control/gun violence 6
    Border security: 6
    Moral decline: 5

    [remaining items, all less than 5%, omitted]

    Question wording: “What would you say is the most important problem facing this country today?”

    So what happened here?

    Ross chose to conflate the concepts ‘immigration’ and ‘border security’ and added the two numbers to make the combo look bigger relative to the rank order of other priority-concern items. So far, so good, except that border security is only one aspect of immigration, which is a much larger concept and also includes legal immigration, to state an obvious nontrivial fact.

    More importantly, however, the sum is only 16%. Assuming every respondent picked one top issue and only one, 84% did *not* express a priority concern about immigration/border security, but pointed to something else that’s more important to them.

    Assuming alternatively that respondents were allowed to pick 2 or more top concerns, the resultant counts for different concerns shouldn’t be added up because the sum would exceed 100%. Some respondents would be counted twice in the figure representing the combined count of two related items of concerns.

    Bottom-line for Manny: According to the latest UT-TT poll, it’s actually a minority of Texans for whom immigration is a top concern.

    And if the conflation approach is legit (arguably it is) why not add up the numbers for “moral decline” and “political corruption/leadership”. That would bring us to 18%. Two percentage points higher than the “finding” under which this story on the collective state of mood and mind of Texans is being pitched.


    In the sub-header of his exegesis of the latest UT poll data, Ross claims that “Texas voters’ top concerns have shifted to the state’s border with Mexico.”

    Based on a keyword search of the entire 191-page report, however, the only survey item referencing Mexico is this: “Which comes closest to your view about children who arrive at the U.S-Mexico border without a parent or guardian and are seeking to enter the United States?”

    Note first that there are 2 references in here to the United States and not to any particular state. So the frame here is national.

    Second, this item is clearly about *children*, not just immigration or border control generally. Soliciting a policy opinion on how unaccompanied minors are to be handled is not the same as asking for attitudes toward immigration generally, nor would any response reflect the *salience* accorded to that issue by the respondent whose opinion is being ascertained. Indeed, the responses to this item have no bearing on the rank-order of problem perceptions as self-reported by respondents.

    Third, this questionnaire item taps into how Texans feel about government’s treatment of children (such as CPS or courts) and the associated value orientations, not just attitudes regarding drug smuggling, crime, or legal and illegal immigration. And the issue is further complicated by the federal vs. state dimension in the context of immigration (which could affect responses to the extent respondents are aware of how Republican politicians in Texas are butting into federal immigration policy and policy execution, even voicing humanitarian concerns).

    A journalistic interpretation of such data should acknowledge these types of complexities.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Constitutional carry just passed the Texas Senate! Let’s hope the House does the right thing, too. Law abiding citizens carrying is good for everyone, and hey, it’s a God given, natural right that also happens to be enshrined in the Constitution. What’s not to like?

  3. Pingback: Permitless carry passes the Senate – Off the Kuff

  4. Doris Murdock says:

    Not content with restricting my voting access (as a senior citizen, I prefer vote-by-mail and/or drive-through voting), the Texas Lege & Governor [sic] are ready to provide permitless carry to the general population. Guess I’ll have to buy a kevlar hoodie and dig out my Uncle Homer’s WW II six-shooter. (Wonder if they still make ammo for it?)

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    Assuming your gun is a Colt M1917 revolver, it takes .45 acp ammunition, which is still commonplace, although there is an ammo shortage that’s been going on for a while, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the civil unrest last year and this year. You’ll find ammo for it, although it will be much more expensive than it used to be.

    Assuming your gun is a Colt M1927 (the other commonly issued pistol sidearm), you’re still in luck, as that chambers .38 Special, also widely produced currently. Either way, good on you for hanging on to a piece of American history. If you haven’t shot it in a while, or ever, make sure and have it looked at by a competent gunsmith, to ensure it is functional and safe before you take it to the range. If you will be a new shooter, be sure and get some instruction and help, so you can develop safe gun handling practices while you practice marksmanship. You’ll be amazed how fun target shooting is!

    Finally, as a senior citizen, your right to vote by mail will remain sacrosanct, regardless of which voting bills are passed into law. Relax, you’re good. Assuming you voted in a ‘drive through’ for your one and only time in 2020, yes, that might not be an option for you going forward, but you’ve managed to lead a productive, fulfilling life prior to 2020 without drive through voting…’ll survive not doing it going forward, and heck, you’ll get to tell your grand kids, “Yes, I voted in a drive through one time!” What a story to tell, probably on par with stuffing a phone booth with 23 of your friends when you were a kid! They’ll be amazed!

  6. Ross says:

    Bill, what is your opposition to drive through voting based on? As long as the same checks are carried out as would be done for a walk in, why does it matter? Are you opposed to drive in voting for a disabled person whose closest voting location is not fully accessible, when, in recent history, those locations carried a voting machine out to the voter’s vehicle? If you are opposed to that, I would have to ask why you hate disabled people voting.

  7. Bill Daniels says:


    As you correctly point out, accommodation for the handicapped was and already is available, to insure that they can vote. None of that changes no matter what passes. No previously enfranchised handicapped person is now going to suddenly become disenfranchised, and we should all support that. We spend more, per voter, on the handicapped, and that’s OK!

    Having said that, drive through voting necessitates more poll watchers per voting location, which in anathema to transparency. What prevents me going through the drive through with a stack of ID’s representing all of my neighbors and friends, or the people at a group home or nursing home, or just a list of people I searched public records to find who are registered, but haven’t voted in a while, and using those to vote in a drive through, with the complicity of a sympathetic poll worker, all away from the prying eyes of a Democrat poll watcher who would notice that I’m voting multiple times?

    But even more simply, this is a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Drive through voting is a solution in search of a problem. It’s not only ripe for abuse, it’s not showing good fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. When I vote, I see people on crutches, and even in wheelchairs. They manage to get inside our handicapped accessible library to vote, although I understand that some polling locations are older, and may not be fully handicapped accessible, thus the availability of parking lot voting for disabled only. We should all support that, because any one of us could suddenly become disabled and need the same accommodation.

    Mass drive through voting, however, would be like coming out and saying, yes, the county uses tractors and mowers to cut the grass on the roadside, but now we’re going to start cutting some of it with gangs of workers who have scissors. That’s wasteful and inefficient.

  8. Kibitzer says:

    Re: “accommodation for the handicapped was and already is available, to insure that they can vote. None of that changes no matter what passes.”

    Correct this kibitzer if mistaken, but isn’t the cause for the availability of accommodations for the disabled in Texas the existence of a federal law, combined with the principle of federal supremacy (and preemption, to the extent of conflict with state law)?

    Second, wouldn’t it seem reasonable to look for a federal solution to the problem of historic regression in the voting rights realm in Texas? Given the better record of the U.S. Congress in facilitating the exercise of the franchise nationwide?

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    Mostly correct. Federal law ensures the handicapped (differently abled?) are given necessary access to vote. Correct. We all support that, left and right.

    This is the troubling part:

    “Second, wouldn’t it seem reasonable to look for a federal solution to the problem of historic regression in the voting rights realm in Texas?”

    Exactly what troubling problem was there with voting rights in Texas in 2018? In 2016? In 2008? I am not aware of any current troubling problem that was present during those votes. In those years, I don’t recall anyone saying, “Halp, I can’t vote because I am only capable of voting between the hours of 9pm and 7am, and I simply cannot vote during the 14 usual and customary voting hours everyone else uses for two weeks plus election day. I also don’t recall the able bodied clamoring to have drive through voting. Did I miss something?

    Were Texans suffering from a regression of voting rights in ’08, ’12, and ’16? If not, then merely codifying what was done in those years doesn’t regress anything. It codifies the status quo of the non regressive, fair voting that went on in those years.

    Your better argument would be that voter ID is a poll tax, even though the state of Texas spent literally millions of dollars to issue about 300 FREE voter certificates to the few people who actually didn’t have some kind of ID already. You could make the argument that since people weren’t paid for their time and travel to get their free voting certificates, that constituted a poll tax.

    Can you explain how the votes in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2018 in Texas were discriminatory, and regressive, namely, who it was that was being discriminated against?

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Off topic, but can I just say I wanted to find out more about Doris’ gun? I’ll note that since she inherited it from her uncle, she didn’t pass a background check to get it. Isn’t that something everyone here wants to prohibit, direct transfer of guns from one private citizen to another without a background check?

    So how does that play out? Doris, who I trust is a very sweet, law abiding, older lady, who enjoys voting by mail, is forced to go find a FFL holder to fill out a 4474 form and pass a background check to actually inherit a treasured bit of not just Americana, but family history. Are there drive through FFL locations for Doris? Are they open in the dead of night? Do we really want to subject people like Doris, a woman who could be any of our grandmas, to a background check to inherit property?

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