Only a quarter of registered Texas voters think the country is moving in the right direction, but 45 percent say the state is on track, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
More than three in five said the country is on the wrong track, while 35 percent said the same about the state.
“People are always pretty dour in these things,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. “But in all of these, we’re seeing some degree of uptick. People are starting to register the recovery in the economy.”
The respondents judge the economic condition of the country less harshly than they did in the October UT/TT Poll, with 29 percent saying the country is better off than it was a year ago, 28 percent saying it’s about the same and 40 percent saying the country is worse off than it was last year. In October, 25 percent said things had improved economically.
They were slightly more positive about their personal financial situations, too, with 25 percent saying they and their family are better off than a year ago, 43 percent saying things are about the same and 31 percent saying they’re worse off than they were a year ago. That’s better, but not great, according to Daron Shaw, a professor of government at UT-Austin and co-director of the poll.
“A quarter say they’re better off, but almost a third said they were worse off,” he said. “That’s a worrisome number, I think, if you’re a state official.”
The right direction-wrong track trend — the lower regard for the federal matters relative to state affairs — shows up in job ratings for the president, the Congress and the governor. Only 34 percent approve “strongly” or “somewhat” of the job President Obama is doing, while 55 percent said they disapprove — including 44 percent who said they disapprove “strongly.”
Congress does even worse, with 11 percent giving good grades and 72 percent disapproving — including 49 percent who disapprove strongly.
Gov. Rick Perry does comparatively well, with 42 percent giving him approving job ratings and 38 percent disapproving.
As you might expect, the overall numbers hide deep partisan divides. Among self-identified Republicans, 90 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing. Among Democrats, 77 percent approve. Tea Party identifiers were with the Republicans, with 91 percent disapproval. The numbers also reveal a gender gap: Only 30 percent of men approve of the job the president is doing, while 37 percent of women approve; 60 percent of men give him bad grades, while 51 percent of women do.
Most Democrats — 71 percent — gave Perry disapproving grades, while 69 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party approve of the job he’s doing.
There is some harmony between those three groups of partisans, however: Congress is unpopular with everybody. It gets disapproving job performance ratings from 66 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Tea Party respondents.
Finally, the pollsters asked Texas registered voters how they identify themselves, splitting the group and asking two ways whether they consider themselves Texans first and Americans second, or vice versa. Between 71 percent and 74 percent said they are Americans first. The rest — 26 percent to 29 percent — said they are Texans first.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted Feb. 7-17 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in the charts might not add up to 100 percent, because of rounding.
This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Monday: The state of the political races. Tuesday: Views on a range of education proposals. Wednesday: Legalization of Marijuana, immigration, voter ID and other issues. A summary of the poll, crosstabs and the methodology are attached.