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The Politics of Being “Texan” – An Interview with Brandon Rottinghaus, Ph.D.

We are excited to welcome back Prof. Brandon Rottinghaus to WIH to discuss his latest research project, The Politics of Being Texan. We asked him to answer a few questions in anticipation of his upcoming lecture…

  1. What led you to want to do this particular study? Can you share a little bit of you process?

I saw a bumper sticker a few months back that read “I’m Texan and I vote.”  I wondered what it meant to the person in that car. Texas is a big state and there are a lot of opinions about what it means to have Texas pride. I was curious about the political impact of that.

  1. Can you discuss any particular contrasts or similarities in the influence of Texas identity on political issues between the statewide and Houston city levels, and what implications does this have for understanding regional political dynamics in the state?

People who have a stronger Texan identity tend to be people who want to keep Texas closed off, keeping immigration low and eliminating undocumented immigration. These tend to be people who are more conservative in general and people who have lived in Texas for a longer time.

In a different survey, I ask people about “Houstonian” pride. Houstonians who say they’re very prideful of the city are more likely to say that as a community the city is better prepared to recover from extreme weather events, for example.  So it follows that people who have more pride in Houston are more resilient to the kinds of extreme events that we often have and that might influence decision making.

3. Based on the survey data’s insights, how might understanding the role of “being Texan” in shaping political viewpoints and policy choices inform approaches to governance, public discourse, and policymaking in Texas?

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what a stronger Texas identity does in terms of peoples actions — does stronger Texas identity make people conserve energy when ERCOT asks or do people actually drive friendlier?  This research can help us answer these questions and I am looking forward to sharing it.  

Want to learn more about Prof. Brandon Rottinghaus? You can find him here:

Twitter:  @bjrottinghaus

Website:  http://www.brandonrottinghaus.com

Co-Host of the political podcast / TV8 show “Party Politics

Political Analyst KHOU Houston