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Endorsement watch: Opting for Ogg

The Chron makes their choice in the Democratic primary for District Attorney.

Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg

Democratic voters face a choice between two strong candidates for Harris County district attorney. But while Morris Overstreet can look back and reflect on a distinguished career, Kim Ogg is the candidate in this primary who most clearly articulates specific recommendations for the future.

The war on drugs has failed. Our system imprisons too many nonviolent offenders for low-level drug crimes, and in the process wrecks lives and destroys futures. Not only that, our existing policy disproportionately and unfairly targets young men of color.

Ogg believes that the public will be better-served not prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases. In her view, the best and fastest way to make our neighborhoods safer is to target real criminals – violent predators and gang members who commit serious crimes.

In Texas, a district attorney possesses the discretion under the law to decide what cases will be prosecuted criminally and which ones will not. Last year, Devon Anderson implemented a system to ticket first-time offenders caught with small amounts of marijuana instead of arresting them. Defendants can secure dismissals by attending a drug awareness class.

Ogg’s plan goes further. It would be open to anyone caught with small amounts of marijuana, even repeat offenders – although police and prosecutors will still have the discretion to charge and prosecute in certain cases. Ogg estimates that this policy – which effectively decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana – would allow the district attorney to redirect the approximately $10 million that the county is spending on enforcement in low-level marijuana cases toward the investigation and prosecution of gangs, burglary, rape and organized crime.

My interview with Ogg is here and with Overstreet is here. Overstreet is a strong candidate and this is a legitimately tough choice. Either will have an interesting race against incumbent DA Devon Anderson, who earned herself some good will and some enmity with those grand jury indictments against the two video fraudsters. It’s hard to say which will outweigh the other; if Harris County has the same kind of partisan balance as it had in 2012, that makes this race even harder to call. With the Lloyd Oliver joker in this primary deck, this race could go into a runoff. The good news is that that’s the only way he’s likely to be a factor.

Also, on Sunday the Chron made Presidential primary endorsements, for Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Has the Chron ever passed on endorsing a Bush when given the chance? I’m just curious.

2015 Lyceum poll, day two

Once again, here’s the press release:

An independent poll conducted by the Texas Lyceum, a non-partisan, nonprofit statewide leadership group, shows billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump leading U.S. Senator Ted Cruz by five points (21 percent-16 percent) in Texas in the 2016 Republican Presidential nominating contest. The survey also shows former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a substantial lead in the Democratic primary, but trailing in a November 2016 general election among Texas voters.

“We are proud to publicly share the results of our ninth Texas Lyceum Poll with Texas’ policymakers, scholars and citizens,” said 2015 Lyceum President Jane Cummins. “We included a diverse set of questions ranging from U.S. presidential contenders to a variety of issues facing our state. We will continue to use the poll as a foundation for discussion at our annual public conferences and quarterly meetings, and readily share these valuable data to inform public policy discussions in Texas.”

Trump’s support in the Lyceum Poll remains consistent with national polls across most age groups: including those 65 and older, 45 to 64, and 30 to 44, only trailing retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson by one point (22 percent to 21 percent) among potential Republican Primary voters under the age of 29.

Due to the large field of candidates, the Lyceum poll asked, “who would be your second choice” for president? This question revealed that 37 percent of Trump’s voters would support Ted Cruz, followed by 24 percent for Carson.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic field with 36 percent of the vote followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (24 percent), Vice President Joe Biden (15 percent), and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb (2 percent).

Looking ahead to the November 2016 general election in Texas, Clinton trails Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump by eight, seven, and two points, respectively. However, she is ahead of Florida Senator Marco Rubio by seven points

“Mrs. Clinton actually polls better in Texas right now than one might have expected,” said Prof. Daron Shaw, who oversees the Lyceum Poll along with Lyceum Research Director, Joshua Blank. “But this is primarily due to her greater name recognition and the divisiveness of the GOP contest at this early stage.”

Texas and National Economy

Despite a declining state unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, down from 4.8 percent this time last year, Texans see the economy as stagnant compared to a year ago. Looking to the national economy, Texans’ attitudes are mixed. A plurality believes we are worse off than last year (34 percent), but an almost equal proportion (31 percent) says that the national economy has improved.

Job Approval

In the poll, which was conducted September 8 – 21, 56 percent of likely voters approve of the job Governor Abbott is doing. Meanwhile, the poll shows a slight bump (eight percent) in approval ratings for President Obama compared to last year’s Lyceum poll. A majority of respondents, 52 percent, indicated that President Obama is either doing a “very good” or “somewhat good” job as president, compared with 44 percent who indicated that the president is doing either a “somewhat poor” or “very poor” job.

Here is the Executive Summary, and here are the poll results, which you can compare to the Texas Pulse poll from last week. If you look at the data, you may note that President Obama has a shockingly good approval rating – 52% positive, which stands in stark contrast to the Texas Pule number of 41% approval. In response to my question, pollster Daron Shaw noted that this is a sample of adults, so it is fairly heavily non-Anglo, and thus more favorable for Obama than a likely-voter or even a registered-voter sample would be. Those of you out there that like to say that Texas isn’t a Republican state so much as it is a non-voting state may feel a little smug now. Not that it changes anything in the here and now, of course.

Let’s take a closer look at those November matchup numbers:

Candidates RVs LVs ======================= Jeb! 32 35 Clinton 27 27 HTMUAI 41 39 Cruz 31 39 Clinton 31 32 HTMUAI 37 29 Rubio 22 27 Clinton 32 34 HTMUAI 44 40 Trump 33 39 Clinton 38 37 HTMUAI 29 25

“HTMUAI” = “Haven’t thought much about it”, which is the “don’t know/no opinion” answer for this poll. The large values for that answer is what you’d expect for this early in the cycle, and as such I wouldn’t make too much of any individual contest. Rubio is the least known – if he does turn out to be the nominee, you can expect his higher profile and normal partisan affiliation will make up the gap. Hard to say if Clinton draws actual crossovers from Trump or if that pairing just gets more people off the fence. File it away for later and see what movement we get once the dust starts to settle in the GOP race.

As for the primary results, there’s nothing here to suggest Hillary Clinton has anything to fear in Texas; the Pulse poll says the same thing. We are of course six months out from said primary, and anything can happen – if Sanders takes the lead nationally and/or starts racking up states, you can be sure the numbers here would reflect that. On the GOP side, one presumes Ted Cruz would prosper if Trump drops out. I can’t help but feel that Cruz has a hard ceiling, sort of like Trump does. It’s hard to be that universally loathed and not have some limits on one’s potential. Again, we’ll know more once that field has been winnowed a bit. What do you make of these numbers?

Texas Pulse Poll

Hey look! Someone polled Texas.

A statewide poll of Texas likely voters finds that immigration and the economy are the top issues of concern for residents of the Lone Star State. The poll also found that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lead the Republican and Democratic primaries. Barack Obama is viewed unfavorably by a majority of Texans. Gov. Greg Abbott is seen favorably, and Sen. Ted Cruz has a more mixed favorability rating.

The Texas Pulse, a periodic survey of Texans’ opinions on a variety of cultural, economic and political issues, was conducted by Crosswind Media & Public Relations from Sep. 11-14, using a survey of 1,000 Texans. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. A 2014 Texas Pulse survey was recognized by the Houston Chronicle as the most accurate poll in the governor’s race.

In a survey of 452 likely Democratic voters, Clinton leads Democrat Bernie Sanders 53 percent to 21 percent, with Sen. Joe Biden, who has not announced for president, in third with 14 percent in a hypothetical matchup.

“Despite some challenges, the Clinton name is still gold among Texas Democrats,” said Thomas Graham, Crosswind president and CEO. “Hillary’s support remains solid, particularly among minorities and women. While Sanders fares well among white and younger voters relative to his overall numbers, Hillary Clinton still beats him 2-1 in even these categories.”

Clinton even beats Sanders 52 percent to 31 percent among voters identifying themselves as liberal. The former secretary of state does best among African-Americans, with almost two thirds (65%) supporting her. Sanders’ only lead in any category is among voters identifying their ethnicity as “other.” This is a relatively small sample, however.

On the Republican side, as Crosswind announced last week, Donald Trump leads the field with 26 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 19 percent. Texas’ own Senator Ted Cruz is third with 15 percent, and Jeb Bush is fourth with 9 percent.

You can go here to add yourself to their mailing list enter your information to see the full poll information. Honestly, it doesn’t have that much – you will be shocked to know that Republicans like Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz but hate President Obama and Obamacare, while Democrats love the President and Obamacare but can’t stand Abbott or Cruz. There’s a bit more nuance than that, so go get yourself the full poll if you want to know the full details plus some other things. On the GOP primary side, that link above in this paragraph has a pie chart of the full field. Pre-dropout Rick Perry got 3% and Scott Walker got 2%, while pre-CNN debate Carly Fiorina was at 3%. Such are the perils of waiting to release poll data. I would have loved to have seen some potential November matchups, but no dice. There’s also some issues polling – Republicans continue to be obsessed with immigration and “border security” (a full 50% had it as their top issue), while Dems are interested in a broader range of things. The press release linked at the top has some of those numbers, though oddly they disagree with what’s on the full poll page – the release says “Among Republicans, the economy is second (18%) and taxes and spending third (15%)”, but the chart on the poll page shows “economy and jobs” at 15% and “taxes and spending” at 11%. Go figure.

Anyway, much of this is for entertainment value only at this stage. You can be sure it will be different in February, even if neither field is much smaller. The Texas Lyceum will be releasing the results of its 2015 Issues and Elections poll next Wednesday the 30th, so we’ll see how these two compare.