AUSTIN (Nexstar) – A new poll is giving us a better idea of what Texans are thinking about the issues facing the state as we head into the legislative session. For insight, we spoke with Jim Henson, the executive director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. What follows is a partial transcript of our interview.
Monica Madden: Jim, your poll asked Texans what they think about state government specifically, whether it’s addressing the needs of the people right now. And the numbers weren’t great. What is your takeaway on that?
Jim Henson: You know, it was very interesting. We gave people a pair of sets of oppositions where he said, Do you agree with this statement or that statement? And the key finding there was that only 37% of Texans said that they thought that state government met the needs of Texans, 46% the plurality said they didn’t. This tracks with some of our long-standing kind of right track, wrong track numbers, things we’ve seen. But there’s definitely a skepticism about responsiveness out there right now.
Ryan Chandler: To put it mildly, these numbers show that people may not have a high regard for their state governments. But what about the people in charge of that government? Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Governor Abbott, they have different opinions about the people?
Jim Henson: Well, interestingly enough, the leadership in the state got a little bit of a bump now that we’re out of campaign season, not as much negative advertising. And after all the people were pulling on are the winners and people tend to be a little more positive about winners. So everybody went up a little bit, particularly Governor Abbott, he had probably the best ratings that we’ve seen him get in, in over a year. Same with Lieutenant Governor Patrick versus and same with virtually all of the statewide officials. So none of them are over 50%. So we don’t want to like exaggerate the gap. But they’re doing better.
Monica Madden: And as we head into the upcoming legislative session, what would you say are some of the standouts from this poll?
Jim Henson: Well, one of the things that we asked a lot of questions about was business and policy in the state. And there were a lot of interesting results in that one of the things we did was asked Texans whether they thought business was doing too little or too much on a range of hot-button issues that the legislature is paying a lot attention to business policy on it surely enough. The top response in which Texans said that business was doing too little was climate change, almost half said the business was doing too little on climate change. I think that’s going to be a very active issue going into the session, how the how the state is going to respond to things like ESG policies, we’ve heard a lot about, quote-unquote, woke business. It seems like it’s another area where the Republican majority is a little further to the right than where most Texans are.