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The Brief: Oct. 30, 2012

Most Texans still aren't optimistic about the future of the country, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. But a deep partisan divide underlies the data.

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The Big Conversation:

Most Texans still aren't optimistic about the future of the country, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. But a deep partisan divide underlies the data.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the survey said the U.S. was on the wrong track, compared with 31 percent who said it was on the right track. Meanwhile, 43 percent said the state was headed in the right direction, while 34 percent said it was headed in the wrong direction.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the responses tracked with ideology: Republicans were likelier to view the U.S. as on the wrong track and the state on the right track, while Democrats were optimistic about the country but pessimistic about the state.

Still, the numbers reflected an improvement in Texans' outlook from a year ago, when three out of four said the nation was on the wrong track.

"Almost all of the wrong-track numbers went down, and almost all of the right-direction numbers went up," said Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and the co-director of the poll. "You get a sense that people are feeling some slight improvement in the economy and they’re feeling things going pretty well in Texas."

But pessimism is still pervasive. More than 40 percent said the U.S. economy was worse than it was a year ago, while only a third said it was better. Similarly, about a third said they thought the worst is over for the national economy, while 42 percent said the worst is yet to come.

"If you look at the media sphere right now, with the flood of the campaign coverage, it’s hard not to get negative messaging out of that about the future," Henson said. "Part of the hook of this campaign, really for both sides, is that the future is uncertain."

Check out Ross Ramsey's write-up for the full results.


  • A week out from Election Day, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler has released his first television ad. The spot, which the campaign said would run in "targeted markets" later this week, touts Sadler's experience and calls Ted Cruz, Sadler's Republican opponent, "the most extreme Senate candidate in Texas history."

  • The San Antonio Express-News has a fresh look at the criticism Ted Cruz has received from Texas Hispanics over his Latino credentials. Cruz's response to the criticism: "I didn't run for Senate as 'elect me because I'm the Hispanic guy.' I ran for Senate because I had the strongest conservative record of any candidate." 
  • Republicans flocked to the polls in Dallas County during the first few days of early voting, but Democrats appear to be picking up the pace, signaling another likely sweep of county offices, The Dallas Morning News reports.

"We have a lot of regard and respect for Gov. Perry. And I think Gov. Perry has learned a few things about running for president. One is, if he’s going to get in, get in a little earlier than he did. Two is he shouldn’t have back surgery. And definitely be off Oxycodone." — Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats to theMorning News


Early voting runs through Nov. 2. Use the secretary of state's website to find a polling place!

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