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Joe Biden

Could Beto-Cornyn still happen?

According to that same Quinnipiac poll, some people would like for it to happen.

Beto O’Rourke

Most Texas Democrats say they’d prefer for former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke to abandon his campaign for president and instead take on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, a new poll released Wednesday shows.

Sixty percent of about 400 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters polled by a Quinnipiac University said they’d prefer to see a Cornyn-O’Rourke showdown. The poll surveyed 1,159 voters overall and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points overall and plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Democrats and Democratic-leaners.

Yet O’Rourke was still preferred over most other Democratic candidates for president other than former Vice President Joseph Biden, who led the pack as the top choice for 30 percent of Texas Democrats polled.

O’Rourke was behind him with 16 percent, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 15 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 11 percent.

[…]

A change in course for O’Rourke, or even Castro, would not be entirely unexpected to Cornyn, who had a 44 percent approval rate among those polled by Quinnipiac.

This is all from that same Quinnipiac poll that I noted yesterday. I don’t actually think there’s any chance Beto will switch back to the Senate race. Remember, the filing deadline in Texas is in December, which is still before any state actually votes in their Presidential primary. I just don’t see him dropping out that early, unless the fundraising train really grinds to a halt for him. He never expressed any interest in running for the Senate again, so even if he does somehow drop out in time to file for Senate, I think he’d just sit it out.

And you know, that’s okay. It really is. I say that in part because I’ve made my peace with his decision, and in part because I’ve come to believe that the next Democratic Senate candidate needs to use Beto’s 2018 campaign as a starting point and a platform on which to construct a better and more robust campaign that absorbs and applies the lessons we have learned from the Beto 2018 experience. I think that will have a better chance of success than Beto 2.0 would have. Of course, Beto could do that himself – it doesn’t need to be a new candidate for this. Some fresh eyes would likely help, though.

This is also going to be the place where I say I’m tired of people complaining that if Beto had run for Senate instead of for President, the Dems would be that much closer to winning the Senate, which they need to do at least as much as they need to defeat Trump in order to get this country back on track again. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Steve Bullock of Montana also get this criticism, though Stacy Abrams, who is not running for President or US Senate in Georgia, escapes it. If Beto were literally the only candidate of merit who might run that would be one thing, but we have a perfectly good candidate in the race in MJ Hegar, and we may have other getting in. I don’t deny that Beto would have started off in the strongest position of any Dem, and if he were running for Senate that race would already be on the national radar. I’m just saying it’s not Beto or nothing. I would like it if more people considered that.

Finally, I hope that as we go forward, Quinnipiac et al will begin to include Senate race questions, so we can compare the levels of support for Trump and Cornyn and whichever Dems they are matched against. Despite being a Senator for 17 years (and Attorney General before that) Cornyn’s name recognition is so-so, which is in part why his approval (and disapproval) numbers are lower than Ted Cruz’s. A Cornyn/Hegar question (and a Cornyn/Amanda Edwards question or a Cornyn/Chris Bell question) would serve fairly well as a “somewhat well-known R versus generally unknown D” question, which would help illustrate how much each Democratic Presidential hopeful might be affecting the data. Maybe in the next Q-poll we’ll see something like this.

Still ridiculously early poll: Biden leads Trump by four

Encouraging, but the usual caveats apply.

President Donald Trump is locked in too-close-to-call races with any one of seven top Democratic challengers in the 2020 presidential race in Texas, where former Vice President Joseph Biden has 48 percent to President Trump with 44 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Other matchups by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll show:

  • President Trump at 46 percent to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 45 percent;
  • Trump at 47 percent to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 44 percent;
  • Trump at 48 percent to former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke with 45 percent;
  • Trump with 46 percent to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 44 percent;
  • Trump at 47 percent to California Sen. Kamala Harris at 43 percent;
  • Trump with 46 percent and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro at 43 percent.

In the Trump-Biden matchup, women back Biden 54 – 39 percent as men back Trump 50 – 42 percent. White voters back Trump 60 – 33 percent. Biden leads 86 – 7 percent among black voters and 59 – 33 percent among Hispanic voters.

Republicans back Trump 90 – 8 percent. Biden leads 94 – 4 percent among Democrats and 55 – 33 percent among independent voters.

[…]

Texas voters give Trump a split 48 – 49 percent job approval rating. Men approve 55 – 43 percent, as women disapprove 55 – 42 percent.

This is an improvement for all Dems, especially Biden, over the February results. It’s all still ridiculously early and all, but there are two things I’d focus on here. One is Trump’s level of support among white voters. Mitt Romney regularly polled at 70 percent or higher among Anglos, with President Obama generally in the low-to-mid 20’s. I’ve been saying all along that the big step forward Dems took in 2018 was partly about former Republicans, turned off by Trump, switching their allegiance. Turnout mattered a lot, of course, but this was an extra boost in the fuel. I don’t want to make too much out of one number on one poll, but keep an eye on that as more results get published over time. If Trump can’t dominate among Anglo voters, he and the rest of the GOP are in trouble.

Along those same lines, note that in neither of these Q-polls has Trump topped 48% overall against any opponent. If this continues, especially with other pollsters, it’s reasonable to think of this as more or less his ceiling. Again, look at my sidebar for the Obama numbers from 2012, which generally fit into a tight range of 38 to 41 percent; his final total was 41.38%. Trump is a known quantity. People may or may not know a given opponent to him at this point, but they know who he is, and they know how they feel about him. Unlike 2016, it seems likely that the undecided voters will not break in his favor. Turnout is very much a factor here – how people feel, and whether or not they vote on those feelings, matters a lot – but the longer we go with Trump not doing any better than this, the more the “Texas is in play” narrative will take hold.

Ridiculously early Quinnipiac poll: Trump has a small lead

Consider this to be for entertainment purposes only.

In a very early look at possible 2020 presidential matchups in Texas, President Donald Trump is essentially tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders or former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. President Trump leads other possible Democratic contenders by small margins.

Hypothetical matchups by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll show:

  • President Trump at 47 percent, including 41 percent of independent voters, to Biden’s 46 percent, including 46 percent of independent voters;
  • Trump at 47 percent, including 41 percent of independent voters, to Sanders’ 45 percent, including 48 percent of independent voters;
  • Trump at 47 percent, including 41 percent of independent voters, to O’Rourke’s 46 percent, including 48 percent of independent voters.

Trump has leads, driven mainly by a shift among independent voters, over other possible Democratic candidates:

  • 46 – 41 percent over former San Antonio Mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro;
  • 48 – 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California;
  • 48 – 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Biden, Sanders and O’Rourke share similar support among Democrats and voters 18 – 34 years old.

“The 2020 presidential race in Texas, and how some of Democrats stack up against President Donald Trump, begins as a two-tiered contest. There are three more well-known contenders who run evenly against President Donald Trump. Another group, less well-known, are just a little behind Trump,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Former Vice President Joe Biden has the highest favorability of any of the contenders and has a better net favorability than President Trump,” Brown added. “Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke also does relatively well on favorability and in a matchup with Trump, but that may well be due to O’Rourke being a home-state favorite.

“But former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, who is also a former San Antonio mayor, does not do as well as O’Rourke.”

Among Texas voters, 47 percent have a favorable opinion of Trump, with 49 percent unfavorable. Favorability ratings for possible Democratic challengers are:

  • Biden: 48 – 38 percent;
  • Sanders: Negative 41 – 47 percent;
  • O’Rourke: Divided 44 – 40 percent;
  • Harris: Negative 24 – 33 percent;
  • Warren: Negative 27 – 42 percent;
  • Castro: Divided 23 – 27 percent;
  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey: 51 percent haven’t heard enough to form an opinion;
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: 53 percent haven’t heard enough to form an opinion;
  • U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: 68 percent haven’t heard enough to form an opinion;
  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota: 70 percent haven’t heard enough to form an opinion.

Texas Senate Race

In an early look at the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Texas, Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn and possible Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke are tied 46 – 46 percent. Independent voters go to O’Rourke 47 – 40 percent.

From February 20 – 25, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,222 Texas voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, including the design effect.

I’m gonna bullet-point this one:

– It’s ridiculously early. Don’t overthink this.

– Differences between the top three Dems and everyone else is at least 95% about name recognition and nothing else.

– We just don’t have any polls from similar time frames to compare to. The earliest polls from the 2016 and 2012 cycles that I tracked were from the actual election years, mostly after the nominees had been settled. More than a year later in the cycle from where we are now, in other words.

– That said, the high level of responses is interesting, and probably reflects the fact that basically everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump. In that sense, the dynamic is more like 2012, which was also a Presidential re-election year. Look at the numbers on the right sidebar for 2012, and you’ll see that there were very few “undecided” or “other” respondents. If that is a valid basis for comparison, then Trump starts out at least a couple of points behind Mitt Romney. Given that Romney wound up at 57%, that’s not necessarily a bad place for him to be. Romney also never polled below fifty percent, so there’s that. Again, it’s stupid early. Don’t overthink this.

– There are reports now that Beto will not be running for Senate, in which case we can ignore those numbers even more. I’ll wait till I see the words from Beto himself, but to be sure he’s not talked much if at all about running for Senate again, so this seems credible to me. Without Beto in the race, if that is indeed the case, Cornyn will probably poll a bit better than Trump, at least early on when name recognition is again a factor. In the end, though, I think Cornyn rises and falls with Trump. I can imagine him outperforming Trump by a bit, but not that much. If it’s not Beto against Cornyn, I look forward to seeing who does jump in, and how they poll later on in the cycle.

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.

Texas to get stimulus funds for education

Two weeks ago I wondered if there might be an issue with Texas receiving stimulus funds for education because of the way these funds had been appropriated in the state budget. I’m pleased to see that the answer is no, there are no problems with receiving the funds.

Vice President Joe Biden assured Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday that the state’s application for $4 billion in federal stimulus money for education will be approved in about two weeks.

“It was a very productive and positive meeting,” Perry said of his conference call with Biden and four other governors.

The governor declined to discuss the specifics of the call, but gubernatorial spokesman Mark Miner said Biden opened the conversation by giving Perry assurances that the federal education money will be flowing to Texas. Perry later in the 45 minute call asked Biden to confirm what he said and the vice president repeated it, Miner said.

[…]

Perry also has been blasting the federal government over the stimulus package, but he has been prepared to take $16 billion in stimulus funding for the state. But because his office waited until the last minute to apply for the education stimulus funds last week, there had been some question about whether he would apply for them at all.

Good to know that Perry doesn’t hate teachers and children quite as much as he hates the unemployed. Also nice to see that someone has roused Senator Hutchison from her nap and gotten her to notice that Perry’s public stance on stimulus funds doesn’t exactly square with his actual actions. Gotta start somewhere, I guess.

Here comes the SUPERTRAIN

Nice.

President Barack Obama on Thursday highlighted his ambition for the development of high-speed passenger rail lines in at least 10 regions, expressing confidence in the future of train travel even as he acknowledged that the American rail network, compared to the rest of the world’s, remains a caboose.

With clogged highways and overburdened airports, economic growth was suffering, Mr. Obama said from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, shortly before leaving for a weekend trip to Latin America.

“What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century,” he said, “a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility, a system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity, a system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs.”

Lots more on the White House blog, with a bigger picture of the map here. I think this has a lot of potential to reduce congestion on highways and at airports, as rail travel is very well suited to medium range trips. Flying times may be a little faster, but when you factor in the need to go through security, it evens out quite a bit. Trains can come into town centers as well, making them easier to get to as well as accessible by public transportation. And while it would be ideal, as expressed by President Obama in his intro statement, for people to be able to step off of a high speed train and onto a light rail or subway line, there’s no reason why rental cars couldn’t be available as well.

If you look at that map, you might notice an obvious omission in the routes. As Yglesias says:

It seems strange to build so much track in Texas and not manage to link Houston with Dallas.

It’s a good thing, then, that there’s talk of building our own SUPERTRAIN that would provide a connection between Dallas and Houston. Perhaps the powers that are working on that vision can tap into this one as well. And hey, as long as I’m wishcasting, let’s throw in a Galveston connection, too. Seems to me if there was ever a time to make this happen, it’s now.

Finally, I should note that the House budget includes $182 million for the rail relocation and improvement fund, which will support the bonding of about $1.8 billion in rail projects. A press release from State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, who authored the amendment that appropriated these funds, is beneath the fold.

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