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Texas Lyceum

2015 Texas Lyceum poll

Issues first, election stuff to come. From the press release:

The 2015 Texas Lyceum Poll Finds: 

  • Immigration remains the most important issue facing the state and Texans support lawmakers’ increased spending on border security.
  • Texans’ views on  gay marriage are changing. Forty nine percent of Texans support gay marriage – up from 29 percent in 2009.
  • Experience with  race-based discriminationshifts greatly depending on the racial or ethnic background of the person polled.
  • Footballrules in Texas. Despite national poll numbers revealing 40 percent of Americans would discourage their children from playing youth football72 percent of Texans would encourage children to play football.
  • A growing number of Texans, 46 percent, support legalizing the use of marijuana (up by 13 percent since 2011) and among those who oppose legalization, 57 percent support decriminalization.
  • Texans are not overly concerned about climate change, but a majority (67 percent) would support new regulations on private companies.


2015 Texas Lyceum Poll Infographic

AUSTIN — An independent statewide poll conducted earlier this month (Sept. 8-21) by the Texas Lyceum, the state’s premier non-partisan, nonprofit statewide leadership group, suggests that Texans believe immigration is the state’s number one issue, continue to love their football, have moderated their opinion on the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage over the years, and support some regulation to reduce global warming.

“As the Texas Lyceum celebrates its 35th anniversary, we are proud to conduct this public service offering the media, policymakers, scholars and the general public an annual snapshot of Texans’ views on key issues,” said 2015 Texas Lyceum President Jane Cummins. “This year the Texas Lyceum held meetings focused on the Texas economy and the war on drugs, among other topics, and next year we will address the big business of football in Texas, showing our programs are on point with what Texans are talking about.”

Border Security / Immigration

Border security and/or immigration has remained one of the top three issues for Texans since the inception of the Lyceum Poll. This year the Lyceum Poll gauged Texans’ thoughts on two related policies – one state and the other federal. At the state level, a majority of Texans (62 percent) favor state lawmakers’ approval to spend $800 million on border security operations over the next two years.

Turning to federal policy, 65 percent of Texans approve of the federal government’s decision to halt deportations of undocumented immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military while providing them with a work permit. Only 20 percent queried believe this policy did “a lot” to encourage illegal immigration.

Gay Marriage

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision over the summer that legalized marriage for gay and lesbian couples in all 50 states, more Texans favor allowing same sex marriage than say they oppose it. Our survey shows 49 percent of Texans favor gay marriage, up from 33 percent when asked a similar question in 2011. However, 40 percent are opposed to allowing gay and lesbian couples the right to marry legally.

Racial Discrimination

In light of recent national and Texas race-related controversies, the Lyceum Poll asked respondents two related questions: First, was there ever “a specific instance in which you felt discriminated against by the police because of your racial or ethnic background?” Second, was there ever, “a specific instance in which you felt discriminated against by an employer or a potential employer because of your racial or ethnic background?” Reviewing the total sample with regard to police discrimination, only 17 percent of Texans believed they were discriminated against by police because of their racial or ethnic background. However, on closer inspection, these numbers shift significantly according to the race or ethnicity of the respondent. Four percent of whites, 24 percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of black respondents said they had felt discriminated against by the police. This pattern held with regard to Texans’ attitudes about employer discrimination as well. Only 11 percent of whites indicated they had been discriminated against by an employer, while 27 percent of Hispanics and 42 percent of black Texans felt they had experienced a form of workplace discrimination.

Football Reigns

Despite growing national concern that children who suffer repeated head injuries from tackle football can sustain long-term brain damage, Texans would not discourage their children from playing the contact sport. In fact, 72 percent of those polled said they would encourage children to play football while only 21 percent would discourage it. These numbers contrast with a national NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken last year showing that 40 percent of Americans would steer their children away from playing football due to concerns over concussions.

Legalizing / Decriminalizing Marijuana

As more states either decriminalize or legalize marijuana – with Texas lawmakers passing limited medical marijuana use this past legislative session – a majority of Texans don’t support legalization outright. The survey shows 50 percent of Texans are opposed to legalization, while 46 percent of Texas adults said that they would support legalizing the use of marijuana. However, the numbers are breaking in favor of legalization as support has gone up by 13 points when compared with a question asked in the 2011 Lyceum Poll. Meanwhile, among those who oppose legalization, 57 percent said they would support decriminalization. Specifically, this group agrees on “reducing the maximum punishment for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a citation and a fine.”

Climate Change

Global warming is not a top concern for Texans. When asked if they personally worry about climate change, 50 percent say “only a little” or “not at all.” But when asked “would you support or oppose Congress passing new legislation that would regulate energy output from private companies in an attempt to reduce global warming,” 67 percent of Texans said they would support such regulation.

Daron Shaw, Ph.D., Professor at The University of Texas at Austin and a Texas Lyceum alumnus, oversaw the poll, which was conducted September 8-21, 2015, and queried 1,000 adult Texans. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Dr. Shaw and Texas Lyceum Research Director Joshua Blank, used the latest statistically-advisable polling techniques: live interviewers contacted respondents both by landline as well as cell phones (40 percent) and administered the survey in the respondent’s language of choice (English or Spanish).

The executive summary is here. A couple of points of interest:

On immigration: “The second policy that we queried asked respondents to evaluate the policy by which the Department of Justice stops the deportation of any undocumented immigrant youth who attends college or serves in the military and provides them with a legal work permit that is renewable. Despite the perception that Texans have particularly harsh attitudes on illegal immigration, 65% of Texas adults said that they supported this policy with only 28% expressing opposition. Majorities of Democrats (81%), Republicans (54%), and independents (62%) expressed support, as did majorities of Anglos (58%), blacks (63%), and Hispanics (75%).

On same sex marriage: “Majorities of Democrats (69%), Hispanics (53%), and Texans 18 to 29 years old (65%) and 30 to 44 years old (52%) said that they favored allowing gay marriage; pluralities of independents (46%) and Anglos (47%) also said that they favored allowing gay marriage. A majority of Republicans (58%) and a plurality of black respondents (45%) said that they oppose allowing gay marriage.” I would add that only the 65-and-over crowd was truly opposed (34% in favor to 53% against). The 45-64 group was barely in opposition, 43% yes and 44% no.

On marijuana: “A majority of Democrats support legalization (54% support; 42% oppose) while a majority of Republicans oppose legalization (37% support; 61% oppose). Fifty percent of whites support legalization while 51% of blacks and 56% of Hispanics stand in opposition. Eighteen to 29 year olds are the only age group in which a majority supports legalization (66%). Interestingly, when it comes to Democrats and Republicans in opposition to legalization, both groups favor decriminalization (60% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans). Majorities of whites (59%), blacks (52%), and Hispanics (56%) initially opposed to legalization are supportive of decriminalization, as are all age groups.”

On climate change: “Not surprisingly, given the partisan dimensions of this issue, 84% of Democrats said that they would support [new legislation that would regulate energy output from private companies in an attempt to reduce global warming] (60% said that they would strongly support them), while 45% of Republicans said that they would support such regulations, with 48% saying that they would be opposed. These results still display a rather surprising willingness among Texas Republicans to consider regulation to combat global climate change.”

On the Affordable Care Act: “Like in past polling, Democrats held a much more positive attitude toward the ACA than did Republicans. While 63% of the former hold a positive view of the ACA (up from 58% in 2014), 76% of the latter hold a negative opinion (down slightly from 80%). Whites continue to hold negative opinions towards the healthcare law with only 26% expressing a favorable opinion, while a majority of blacks hold a positive view (65%). Hispanics were evenly divided in their opinions of the ACA, with 42% holding a favorable opinion and 39% holding an unfavorable opinion.”

Basically, outside of that last issue, the survey respondents were a lot less in agreement with the Republicans that dominate state government than they were with Democrats. Needless to say, that discrepancy is a function of who actually votes, and increasingly when they vote; Republican primary voters are far more extreme than Republican non-primary voters. The question is when election results will more closely reflect this. Perhaps the higher turnout of a contested Presidential primary will draw some more moderate Republicans to the polls in March; that won’t have any statewide effect but it might make the Lege a pinch saner. Beyond that, all I know is that it won’t happen in its own.

The Lyceum will be releasing election poll data today. I’ll link to it later, and will have a separate post tomorrow.

Lyceum poll: Perry 48, White 43

From the inbox:

Statewide poll numbers released today show that Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Houston Mayor Bill White trails Republican Governor Rick Perry by five points. The fourth annual 2010 Texas Lyceum Poll, conducted September 22nd – September 30th, shows Rick Perry leading Bill White 48% – 43% among likely voters. The margin of error is +/-4.75 percentage points.

Among self-identified independent voters, White leads Perry 50% – 34%, with Libertarian Kathie Glass also earning 10% support. Moderate voters are also breaking to White, who leads Perry 67% – 22% amongst that group. Perry, however, commands a 76%-17% lead amongst conservatives and has locked down 81% of the Republican vote.

The survey sample, which consists of 416 likely voters, also indicates that most Texans have made up their minds in the race for Governor with only 3% undecided. Meanwhile, of the remaining candidates in the Governor’s race Libertarian candidate Glass has 5-points and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto has 1-point.

“Bill White is hanging tough against Rick Perry, but with just 12 days before Texans head to the polls for early voting and with just 3% of voters undecided in this race, White’s path to victory remains difficult to see,” said Daron Shaw, Ph.D. Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Shaw, with Amy Jasperson, Ph.D, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted the 2010 Texas Lyceum poll.

In two other closely watched down-ballot races the numbers are less competitive. The Republican incumbent candidates in both the Lieutenant Governor’s race and the Attorney General’s race lead the Democratic opponents by double digits. Texas Lieutenant Governor Republican David Dewhurst leads Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson 47% – 30%. In the race for Attorney General, Republican Greg Abbott leads Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky 56% — 29%. However, a significant number of voters remain undecided in these races, at 12% in the Lieutenant Governor race and 11% in the Attorney General’s race.

“Although Republicans enjoy significant leads in the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, a significant number of Texas voters have yet to turn their attention to these down ballot races,” noted Jasperson.


From September 22-30, 2010, The Texas Lyceum conducted a statewide telephone survey. The survey utilized a stratified probability sample design, with respondents being randomly selected at the level of the household. On average, respondents completed the interview in 17 minutes. Approximately 5,000 records were drawn to yield 725 completed interviews. The final data set is weighted by race/ethnicity, age and gender to achieve representativeness. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.75 percentage points.

The ballot numbers and analysis were produced with a screen for likely voters. Voters were deemed “likely” if they indicated that they were registered to vote, indicated that they were “somewhat” or “extremely” interested in politics, and indicated that they had voted in “almost every” or “every” election in the last 2-3 years. This screen produced 416 likely voters, 57% of the full sample and 73% of registered voters. The margin of error for the survey of likely voters is +/- 4.75 percentage points.

The full release is here, and the Lyceum’s executive summary is here. They also did a poll of voters’ attitudes about how to deal with the budget shortfall, which mostly shows that people are deeply confused and uninformed about the cause of the shortfall and the viable routes to fixing it. I don’t have any further data than this, so I can’t give a detailed critique of the poll. It’s consistent with most other results, and it suggests White has done a good job of convincing people who otherwise tend to vote Republican to support him. How well he does with base Democratic turnout may be the most important factor for him right now.

The latest Lyceum poll

The Texas Lyceum just released a poll on various campaigns and politicians, and well, I’m not sure that it says much of anything. I’ve got the PDF here, and the problems begin right away:

We interviewed Texas adults during the June 5-12 period, talking to 860 adults, 51% female, and 49% male. Three out of four said they are registered voters.

One third are “extremely interested” in politics and public affairs and another 46% are “somewhat interested.” Almost half — 49% — said they vote in “every” or “almost every” election. Another 24 percent said they haven’t voted in any election “over the last two or three years.”

OK, so this is a survey of adults, not likely voters (that’s a subsample of about 430) or even registered voters (approximately 650). Nothing wrong with that, but as it will include opinions from a lot of people who may not bother to cast a ballot next year, I’d be careful about what conclusions I drew from this if I were on a campaign.

About the same number of those polled said they are “certain” or “likely” to vote in each party’s primary (Republicans, 31%; Democrats, 30%), and another 17 percent said they intend to vote in a primary but haven’t yet decided which one.

So 49% of the sample actually exhibits habitual voting behavior, yet 78% claim they’ll be voting in one primary or the other in March. The most generous percentage of “likely” voters one can claim for this survey is 76%, if one simply assumes anyone outside that group that hasn’t voted at all in the past two or three years is likely to vote next year. That math doesn’t add up.

Which means you can pretty much take this with a grain of salt:

Texans who plan to vote in next year’s Republican primary for governor favor incumbent Rick Perry over his main challenger, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, by a 33-21 margin, but the most common answer to that question was undecided, with 41 percent saying they haven’t made up their minds. A small group — 1 percent — expressed support for state Rep. Leo Berman. Perry leads Hutchison among self-identified Republicans 40% to 18%, but that’s also the group with the largest number of undecided voters, at 48%. Hutchison carries 49% of self-identified Democrats and Independents who say they plan to vote in the GOP primary, compared to 23% for Perry and 29% undecided.

One wonders how small the “non-Republicans who plan to vote in the GOP primary” subsample is. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Polling for primaries is tricky business under any circumstance, and in a poll that isn’t specifically screening for likely primary participants, it’s even less useful. The same can be said of the Democratic primary poll result, in which Kinky Friedman “led” the field with ten percent. So much for any claim of name recognition by the Kinkster. Speaking of which:

They’re largely undecided on their favorite candidates for U.S. Senate, should Hutchison resign late this year and prompt a special election in May 2010. Given the choice of six Republicans and two Democrats who’ve expressed interest in that race, 71 percent said they either haven’t decided or didn’t want to say. Houston Mayor Bill White led the pack with 9%, followed by Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with 4%; Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, 3%; and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, former Comptroller John Sharp, and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, at 2%. Sharp and White are Democrats; the others are Republicans.

Two percent for John Sharp? Are you kidding me? I realize this is a sample that’s full of less-than-engaged people, but that’s where being on the scene and on the ballot forever as Sharp has been is supposed to be an asset; the junkies already know who everybody is. Not exactly a confidence-builder, you know?

The survey also has approval ratings for Perry, Hutchison, and President Obama, who clocks in with 68% of the respondents saying he’s done a “very” or “somewhat” good job as President, and for the Legislature, of whom 58% of respondents approve. That number for Obama is higher than his national ratings, and as for the Lege, I agree with Phillip: “I’m not even sure if 58% of the Texas legislature would approve of the Texas legislature.” Happy bunch of people they surveyed, that’s all I can say.

And after all that, they don’t give us a general election matchup for Governor next year, which is the one result that could have been truly interesting. It could have been done as Perry and KBH each versus a generic Democrat, or either versus Kinky, Schieffer, and the now-not-running Van de Putte. Alas, they didn’t do that.

Anyway. All polls are snapshots in time. This one is perhaps a bit fuzzier than others. Make of it what you will.

Radnofsky says she’s in for AG

No surprise, since she has been talking about running for Attorney General for awhile, but Barbara Radnofsky sent out a press release yesterday confirming that she’s in the race for keeps. From the release:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston attorney and the Democratic United States Senate nominee in 2006 is running for Texas Attorney General in 2010. Radnofsky says she will hold a formal announcement later in the year or early next year, but she’s in the race to stay because of what’s at stake for Texas.

“Our statewide leaders aren’t fighting for us; they’re fighting for themselves and their own personal agendas. We’ve seen how the Attorney General can harm our everyday lives: our electric bills, the insurance and taxes we pay, the safety of our children. We need an Attorney General who will use her skills to make sure all Texans get the protection they deserve,” Radnofsky said.

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, known as BAR to many of her friends and supporters, has emerged as the first Democratic candidate who says she’s definitely a candidate for Attorney General. Radnofsky says she intends to build upon her base of 1.55 million votes from 2006 with the help of a top notch team of political professionals with a track record of winning in Texas and across the country. She currently has hired fundraising, polling, media, direct mail, and opposition research firms to work on her 2010 campaign.


Since running in 2006, Barbara Ann has maintained her statewide organization and has engaged her organization to help elect more Texas Democrats in 2008. Recent polling shows Texas is ready to vote Democratic. In a recent poll conducted by a Republican polling firm in Texas, only 32% of voters in Texas said that Republican elected officials performed their job well enough to deserve reelection for their offices. In contrast, more than half (54%) responded that, “it’s time to give Democrats the chance to do better.”

“I’m in this race to stay and I’m in it to win,” said Radnofsky.

“I have a statewide organization, thousands of donors, and an experienced team of campaign professionals working with me. Texans are fed up with their interests taking a back seat to partisanship and next year it’ll show at the polls,” she concluded.

For what it’s worth, that Texas Lyceum poll shows an erosion in Republican party identification as well:

More respondents (46%) identified themselves as Independents than as Republicans (25%) or Democrats (28%). More of those who don’t identify with a party said they lean Republican (29%) than lean Democrat (22%). Asked about their political outlook, more consider themselves Conservative (46%) than as Moderate (35%) or Liberal (19%).

About the same number of those polled said they are “certain” or “likely” to vote in each party’s primary (Republicans, 31%; Democrats, 30%), and another 17 percent said they intend to vote in a primary but haven’t yet decided which one.

We’ll have a better idea of where we stand when they release their election polling today. I’ll say again, the biggest factor in turning these numbers from potential gains into actual ones is going to be fundraising. Dems have done very well at that in House races, and it’s resulted in near-parity in the House after starting with an 88-62 deficit. Greg thinks we’re basically a 55-45 state right now. Sufficient resources plus good candidates and a favorable environment can overcome that. That’s still asking for a lot, but it’s doable.

Back to BAR, this is reminiscent of the 2006 Senate campaign in that she jumped in early while many other potential contenders held back in the hope of KBH stepping down. As it was then, there are a lot of other possible candidates out there, and a lot of speculation that the incumbent, Greg Abbott, has his eyes on something else, in this case either KBH’s Senate seat or the Lite Gov’s office. We’ll see how it plays out this time, and if being first in line helps her in the event it’s an open seat and a contested primary.