Watching the world watch Texas.

November 4, 2020

In this issue of Branding Texas – a Special Feature: A post-election evaluation of the Crosswind Texas Pulse Poll. Then, to continue our focus on national and international coverage of our state: Texans brawl to control the state’s ballot boxes; our mask-adverse state tops rival California – in COVID-19 cases; young Texan from Frisco gets international headlines with her 3M science prize; a U.S. supercarrier will be named after a Texas sharecropper’s son who won the Navy Cross for heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack; and a UT Austin screenwriting grad is the latest to join the cast of Saturday Night Live

Thomas Graham


The Morning After – Grading Crosswind’s Polling after Election Day

Brian Watson, Ph.D., Crosswind Director of Research

Last night, as much of the nation struggled to count ballots after record-breaking turnout numbers and unprecedented volumes of mail-in votes, results for the 2020 elections in Texas proceeded efficiently and without much drama. Although many polls showed a neck-and-neck contest between Biden and Trump in the days leading up to Nov. 3rd, once the polls closed it quickly became clear that Republicans were headed for a strong evening in the Lone Star State.
What were the election results?
President Donald Trump appears to have won a comfortable victory over Joe Biden in Texas by a margin of approximately +6%, with 96% of precincts reporting in. Likewise, Senate incumbent Republican John Cornyn coasted to a +10-point victory over Democrat challenger MJ Hegar, who conceded the race just before 9 PM CT. Trump looks likely to win a majority of votes in all but 21 Texas counties, the best performance in turning the map red for Republicans in several cycles.

For Democrats, perhaps the most disappointing news comes from the Rio Grande Valley. As the Austin American-Statesman’s Johnathon Tilove reported:
“[W]hile Biden was defeating Trump by 14 points in Cameron County, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump there in 2016, by 32 points. In Hidalgo county, Biden won by 17 points, and Clinton by 40 points. In Starr County, Biden won by 5 points, and Clinton by more than 60 points. Trump actually won Zapata County by 6 points. Clinton won it by 33 points, and Barack Obama, four years earlier, by 43 points.”

Democrat hopes for a purple Texas that centers the interests of Hispanic/Latino voters now appears to be less likely than ever. Despite significant gains in the suburbs of the major cities, and especially among white female voters, the Democrats’ coalition in Texas is not yet strong enough to overpower the Republicans’ reliable rural and increasingly diverse support.

The news isn’t completely positive for Texas Republicans, however. As we and others have noted in the lead-up to this race, Republican candidates are seeing diminishing support for the top of the ballot candidates over time and the 2020 outcome is no exception. Republicans ought to be wary of too much celebration in the aftermath of this result.

Democrats look poised to capture their highest percentage of the Texas presidential popular vote (46%) since the Carter administration. Republicans have gone from posting reliable double-digit victories in top-of-ballot races to claiming single-digit victories in 2016, 2018 (Senate), and now 2020. While 2020 remains a solid victory for Republicans, the favorable trend toward Democrats will continue to capture headlines and the attention of analysts going forward.

How did Crosswind’s Texas Pulse Poll do?
Last night likely drove many pollsters to consider not only their methods, but also the health of their livers. Most polls in states like Florida and Iowa wildly underestimated support for Donald Trump, and some polls in Texas appear to be similarly uncalibrated.

The 2020 Crosswind Texas Pulse Poll showed Donald Trump leading Joe Biden by +7% (MoE +/-3%) on October 5-6, roughly a month before election day. With the final tally in Texas looking to be a 6-point victory for Trump, our poll appears to have been more accurate than a majority of other statewide polls taken in advance of election day. For the Senate race between John Cornyn and MJ Hegar, even as undecided voters selected a candidate, our observed margin of Cornyn +9-points appears to be strong as well.

One reason the Crosswind Texas Pulse Poll may have been on target was in observing relatively high levels of support for Republicans among self-identifying Latino/Hispanic respondents. While the final margins on how this election breaks down by ethnicity are not yet available, our poll showed Hispanic voters nearly split down the line between support for Donald Trump (48%) and Joe Biden (46%). We received some opinionated feedback for releasing this result on Twitter, and we even expressed some skepticism in our final  Crosswind Texas Pulse Poll report released last week.

Overall, Crosswind continues a strong record of measuring statewide elections accurately. As Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek noted when we released our 2020 results on October 8th, Crosswind’s polls have consistently been on track with the final election results. This year appears to be no exception. When the exit poll figures are more freely available, we will follow up with a final post-election analysis of our poll and what we expect for future election cycles. For now, Republicans still enjoy strong support in Texas – how long that strong support will last, however, remains to be seen.

Texas Pulse Methodology
In this survey of 1000 likely voters in Texas, there is a +/- 3% margin of error assuming a 95 percent confidence interval. Demographics in this sample are based on self-reported responses. 53 percent of respondents identified as female and 47 percent identified as male. For age, 37 percent of the sample is between 18-39 years old, 48 percent is between 40-64, and 15 percent is 65 years or older. By ethnicity, 24 percent of the sample identified as Hispanic/Latino, 12 percent identified as Black, 56 percent identified as white, and 8 percent represent other groups. By political party affiliation, the sample is 38 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 30 percent chose neither major party.

The survey was conducted by Crosswind and Pulse Opinion Research on October 5-6, 2020. Pulse Opinion Research, LLC is an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC. 70% of the sample calls were placed to randomly selected phone numbers through a process that insures appropriate geographic and age representation. 30% of the sample was conducted via online surveys of individuals who use a cell phone as their primary telephone. After the calls and online surveys are completed, the raw data is processed through a weighting program to ensure that the sample reflects the overall population in terms of age, race, gender, political party, and other factors.

For more information or for a copy of the poll’s crosstabs, please send a request to [email protected].

And in an election postscript: Even The New York Times saw fit to report on the blue wave that couldn’t find its footing in Texas, rejecting musings from The Atlantic just one day before the election that if not blue, yesterday’s election was likely to at least paint us magenta.

Despite keeping the statehouses and other critical seats, as our Pulse Poll indicates Texas Republicans would be wise to analyze voter responses and demographics.


Texans battle and brawl to control the state’s ballot boxes

The angry partisan wrestling match inside the battleground state of Texas to either expand or restrict voting in the state was extensively covered in the national press up to and through election day on Tuesday.

The buzzing of a Democratic election bus by flag-waving Trump supporters also made global headlines in the final week before the election, as did the unsuccessful last-minute attempt to suppress 127,000 Texas drive-thru votes.

Coming down to the wire, election observers were also trying to measure the impact of surging COVID-19 cases in the state on surging voter participation.

Texas also got attention for threatening arrest for international election observers due in the state from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. The issue seemed to be just how close the observers can come to the polling stations they are observing.


Texas tops the charts – with COVID-19 cases

Texans like to be the first and the largest in most things. But the latest national headlines will please none: The state has just surpassed California in our state’s number of positive coronavirus tests.

The resistance by many Texans for wearing masks even at polling locations, a growing belief that most people survive the disease with mild or moderate symptoms, and the reopening of local businesses are all thought to be contributing accelerators.

State health officials now report more than 18,000 deaths in 2020 from the disease – with more to come.


Frisco TX teen wins 3M Young Scientist Challenge with a new method that may accelerate COVID cures

A 14-year-old Indian-American from Frisco, Texas is getting international headlines for her win at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Anika Chebrolu won for her work using in-silico methodology for drug discovery – a technique intended to find a molecule that selectively binds with the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Anika is now a freshman at Frisco’s Independence High School. She said that learning about the devastation and death caused by the 1918 flu epidemic energized her work, along with the continuing present-day U.S. death rate from common influenzas despite the widespread availability of vaccinations and drugs on the market.


A US Navy supercarrier will be named for a sharecropper’s son from Waco

A Texas sharecropper’s son from Waco is now one of America’s most celebrated heroes – and will have a Navy supercarrier emblazoned with his name.

Most of America’s supercarriers are named after U.S. presidents. The USS Doris Miller is still in the design phase but will be the first supercarrier to be named after an enlisted sailor and the first to be named after an African American.

Doris “Dorie” Miller was on his battleship, USS West Virginia, during the Pearl Harbor attack. He moved quickly to help move his dying commander to better cover, then jumped behind an anti-aircraft gun to send a rain of bullets after the Japanese aircraft attacking the fleet and naval base.

Once out of ammunition, Miller then began pulling sailors out of the burning, oil-covered water of the harbor and was one of the last men to leave his sinking ship.

Another Texan, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the post-Pearl commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, gave Miller the cherished Navy Cross during a May 27, 1942 ceremony.

Nimitz was born in the German immigrant capital of Texas, Fredericksburg, and is the reason that the National Museum of the Pacific War is located in that Hill Country town, 230 miles from the sea.


It’s no joke: UT Austin grad Andrew Dismukes has joined the cast of Saturday Night Live

Andrew Dismukes, who has been making his way since graduation from UT as a standup comedian, joined the prestigious cast of Saturday Night Live last month. Dismukes has actually been on staff behind the scenes as a writer for three seasons but he will now be on camera and in skits.

Dismukes, a native of Port Neches, studied screenwriting at the Moody College of Communication on the UT Austin campus and began his onstage career during open mic nights at the Cenote coffee shop in East Austin.



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