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The Brief: June 13, 2014

Could President Obama be so unpopular in Texas that he's making it difficult for Democratic candidates in the state, such as gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis?

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, speaks to media during a campaign stop at East Austin restaurant Juan in a Million on May 6th, 2014

The Big Conversation

Could President Barack Obama be so unpopular in Texas that he's making it difficult for Democratic candidates in the state, such as gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis?

The latest numbers in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll suggest that could be the case. Some 56 percent of Texans disapprove of the job done by Obama. An even larger percentage — 72 percent — disapprove of the job being done by Congress. Davis, meanwhile, is underwater by 6 points on her favorable/unfavorable ratings. More worrisome for her backers, the poll finds her support weak among women, a demographic long reckoned as a must get for the Democratic nominee.

“She remains relatively unable to move one of the core constituencies that people thought she would move, and that is women,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “She is not really making any progress with Hispanics. The campaign is either not succeeding or they have not yet begun to fight.”

And in an interesting demonstration of the size of the internal split within the Republican Party, 22 percent of Texans asked would back a Tea Party candidate, should the Tea Party organize as a separate political group. Twenty percent would back the Republican candidate and 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate.

Today in the Trib

Few Foster Care Alumni Receive Higher Ed Benefits: (w/ slideshow) "Though the state offers free tuition and fees for certain former foster youth who enroll at public colleges and universities, relatively few take advantage of the opportunity — a trend policymakers are hoping to change."

Firm Proposes Building Private Toll Road Near Dallas: "The Texas Turnpike Corporation of Dallas wants to build a private toll road in an area northeast of Dallas. If built, the road would be the only private toll road in the state and one of the only such facilities in the country."

Analysis: For Democrats, a Long Game and a Short One: "Texas Democrats hope to break the Republican streak of statewide wins in November, but some are also thinking of what would constitute progress, short of outright victory."


Sessions, Hensarling end bids for House majority leader, The Dallas Morning News

Perry under fire for equating homosexuality, alcoholism, The Dallas Morning News

Texas leaders propose VA fixes on medical care, Austin American-Statesman

Abbott asks feds for $30 million for border, Austin American-Statesman

In school finance case, districts' lawyers fight efforts to remove judge, Houston Chronicle

Chronicle reporter subpoenaed for Perry grand jury probe, Houston Chronicle

Texas Tech system regents name Duncan chancellor, The Associated Press

Kennedy: A Muslim reporter’s icy welcome from Texas GOP: ‘Where are you from?’, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

"Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. At this critical time, we must remain unified as a Republican conference."

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, announcing Thursday evening he was abandoning the race for House majority leader

Today in TribTalk

5 takeaways from the new UT/TT Poll, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank: "The election results in the June 2014 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll were short on big surprises or counterintuitive findings, and so will largely be viewed as good news for Texas Republicans and all-too-familiar bad news for the state’s Democrats."

The delusions of open carry, by Bob Cavnar: "I’m a native Texan and a Second Amendment supporter. I own handguns, long guns, and shotguns. I’m licensed and carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. But I say no to the open carry movement and groups like Open Carry Texas."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. Tickets are on sale now.

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Explore related story topics

Health care Politics Greg Abbott Jeb Hensarling Pete Sessions Rick Perry Wendy Davis