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The Brief: Nov. 13, 2015

Half of Texas voters plan to vote in the Republican primary next year, but a significant portion of them would switch their loyalties to a Tea Party candidate should one run on his or her own.

Texas Tax Day Tea Party Rally at the Texas Capitol on April 15th, 2015

The Big Conversation

Half of Texas voters plan to vote in the Republican primary next year, but a significant portion of them would switch their loyalties to a Tea Party candidate should one run on his or her own, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The Tribune's Ross Ramsey breaks down the numbers. He writes, "Ask voters whether they will turn out for the Republican or Democratic primary, and 50 percent choose the first while 35 percent choose the second. But ask how they would vote if the Tea Party had its own candidate for Congress and the numbers change: 22 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat and 17 percent Tea. The number of uncommitted voters rises, too, when the Tea Party is included, to 26 percent from 15 percent."

The poll also asked about perceptions of Tea Party influence. Thirty four percent of voters thought the group had too much influence while 26 percent thought the group had too little. The responses were polarized by party, too. Ramsey noted that 65 percent of Democrats found the Tea Party to be too influential. For their part, 81 percent of Republicans who identify with the Tea Party thought they did not have enough influence.

All in all, the results show that the Tea Party remains a force to be reckoned with, especially within the ranks of the GOP.

“If you’re running in a Texas Republican primary, 43 to 44 percent of the voters are Tea Party Republicans,” UT/TT poll co-director Daron Shaw said. “You have to talk to those people — you can’t just write them off.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

New Statewide Jail Form Aimed at Suicide Risks, by Johnathan Silver – In the wake of the hanging death of Sandra Bland and other recent suicides, the state agency that oversees jails is issuing a new inmate intake form so jailers will ask more specific, direct questions when booking people.

Cruz Aims to Paint Rubio Into Moderate Corner, by Patrick Svitek – GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is beginning to sharpen his contrasts with U.S. Senate colleague Marco Rubio on an issue of utmost importance to the Republican base: immigration. 

Sources: U.S. Rep. Hinojosa to Retire From Congress, by Abby Livingston – U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Edinburg, will retire from Congress, according to three congressional sources, with an announcement expected to come on Friday.  

Tuition Going Up at A&M System Schools, by Matthew Watkins – Citing a need to keep up with inflation, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday increased tuition at all of its university campuses for the 2016-17 school year. 

In Austin, O'Malley Meets With Undocumented Immigrants, by Jordan Rudner – Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley pushed hard on the need for immigration reform after eating lunch Thursday with a family of undocumented immigrants in East Austin.

Texas A&M Sues NFL's Colts for Using Trademarked "12th Man", by Matthew Watkins – Texas A&M University has sued the Indianapolis Colts to stop the National Football League team from using the phrase “12th man” to describe its fans. 

The Day Ahead

•   Saturday marks the start of the 30-day filing period for candidates to appear on the party primary ballots. 

•   GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump is heading to Texas on Saturday. He will be in Beaumont for a rally at noon, with doors opening at 10 a.m. 


Donald Trump’s 95-minute rant: ‘How stupid are the people of the country?’, The Washington Post

HERO opponents launch calls against bringing back law, Houston Chronicle 

New public housing rule: no smoking San Antonio Express-News

Data leak raises new questions on firm sued over Travis inmates’ calls, Austin American-Statesman

Changes in child welfare paying dividends, Houston Chronicle 

Dallas ISD trustee Mike Morath to head new education committee, The Dallas Morning News

TEA announces closure of La Marque ISD, KHOU-TV

Saavedra asks South San board for buyout,  San Antonio Express-News

Texas officials cancel TAPS Medicaid contract, launch fraud investigation, The Dallas Morning News

Waller County moves to have Bland wrongful death claim dismissed, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?"

Donald Trump in Iowa speaking about his disbelief that Ben Carson's standing in the polls, given his  "pathological temper" when he was younger, described in his autobiography. Trump will be in Beaumont Saturday. 

Today in TribTalk

Protests, photography and the First Amendment, by Dean Galaro – The First Amendment that allows protestors to shout their demands also allows cameras to capture the moment.

News From Home

•    Join us for a discussion on the future of public education in Texas at the University of Texas at El Paso at noon. For those unable to attend in person, we will carry the event on our livestream.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

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