It's been a bit of a week for me at work, so instead of coming up with something new, I thought I'd start a series I've been thinking about for a while.
Since Texas is a pretty large state, we're lucky to get polled fairly often (especially now that it's moved closer to "swing state" status). The University of Texas and Texas Tribune (UT/TT) keep a polling database of all the questions they've asked over the last decade.
Every so often I'll see a polling result that has an unexpected amount of bipartisan support. Here are a few I want to share that any aspiring candidate - Democrat or Republican - in the State of Texas should take seriously. I call this series Easy Wins.
They say there are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. Based on what your favorite news source or candidates say, you might think the average Texas Democrat and average Texas Republican disagree on taxes.
Well, here's a question UT/TT asked earlier this year on property taxes:
Only a minority of Democrats across Texas thought their property taxes were too low and a clear plurality thought they were too high. That's pretty solid agreement with Republicans and Independents.
How about that old idea of moving to a statewide income tax? Well, here's a fairly generous (no pun intended) question from February 2019 on a statewide income tax:
Democrats were very clear that the state should not create a state income tax, even if it was going to fund a very important Democratic priority, public education. Again, Democrats mostly agreed with Republicans and Independents in their opposition.
The only other major tax Texas has is the sales tax. If you were watching the Texas Legislature, you'll know that the State Legislature tried to do a property tax decrease in exchange for a sales tax increase. In the end, it didn't come together, probably because lawmakers saw this graph:
No one wanted a sales tax increase - again, even if it funded a good cause like education or property tax decreases.
So how in the world can any elected official pay for anything new? Whether you're a Democrat wanting to give teachers a raise or a Republican wanting to build new roads, you have to find the revenue somewhere.
Well, how about raising taxes on alcohol? It may not be popular among college kids, but most Democrats and Republicans support it.
Or how about legalizing marijuana and taxing it? That one isn't nearly as popular with Republicans, but 43% still support it.
And then there's gambling. There are clear pluralities open to the idea.
Final verdict: If the government needs more money, leave workers and property owners alone, and go after the drinkers, smokers and gamblers instead!
People say that Democrats are anti-business owners and Republicans are pro-business owners.
Well, that's not always the case. A new group called Data for Progress also does some state level polling. Last year, they started a project called "A New Progressive Agenda" and two of their policy proposals have a surprising amount of bipartisan support.
The first asked:
"In many countries, employees at large companies elect representatives to their firm's board of directors in order to advocate their interests and point of view to management. Democrats say this gives regular workers a greater say over how their companies are run and will increase wages, while Republicans claim that this makes companies less efficient and would be bad for the economy. Would you support or oppose mandating that large companies allow employees to elect representatives to their board of directors?"
And here's a map showing support among Trump voters:
A whopping 50% of Texas Trump voters support a policy from "socialist Europe (Source).
Another one that has a huge amount of support is capping the amount of interest credit cards can charge. Here's the question:
Some Democrats in Congress are proposing banning credit card companies from charging more than 15% interest per year.
Democrats say this will prevent financial institutions from taking advantage of consumers and prevent consumers from accumulating massive debts they have no hope of paying back.
Republicans say this will hurt they economy. They say that without the ability to charge large interest rates, financial institutions will be unwilling to lend, and consumers will lose the ability to use credit cards when they most need it.
Do you support or oppose this policy?
61% of Trump voters support this policy, along with 83% of Clinton voters and 74% of non voters.
Now while Data for Progress framed these as proposals that might come from Washington, the Texas State Legislature could definitely act on these ideas. In fact, the State Legislature regulates something pretty close to credit card interest rates as it is - payday lending.
Lastly, and this one is pretty important during COVID, there's clear support for paid family leave.
Verdict: You can be pro-business and still want to help out the people.
Red Flag Laws
While many people are familiar with the polling on expanding the background check process for buying guns, support for red flag laws is less well known. Red flag laws allow police or family members to petition a court to take away a person's guns if they are found to be a danger to themselves or the community.
Despite what some 2nd Amendment supporters might think is an extreme step, 53% of Republicans at least somewhat support this policy, compared to 34% who at least somewhat oppose it. The margins are higher among Democrats and Independents.
Verdict: Gun laws can be popular even among Republicans.
None of this is to take away from the real serious disagreements that separate the two parties and more broadly the two political coalitions. But there is some overlap and any one who really wants change should take it seriously.
So what do you think? Do these polling results make sense to you? Shoot me an email and let me know - [email protected].