UT/TT Poll: Roughly half of Texans think U.S. is on wrong track and state is on right one

Texans prefer the direction the state’s leaders are navigating than federal ones, but they're more bullish on the nation’s economy than the state’s, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Most Texas voters think the national economy is better than it was a year ago, but half of them also believe the country is on the wrong track, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Only 19 percent think the national economy has declined over the last 12 months, while 53 percent say it has improved and 26 percent say it’s about the same. Texans have been growing more optimistic about the economy for a while now. In the UT/TT poll from a year ago, 40 percent thought the national economy was improving. In the February 2016 poll, only 30 percent felt that way.

Republicans were a lot more likely to say the national economy is better. “You have to be a real partisan Democrat to look at the economy and think it’s moving in the wrong direction,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Only 21 percent of Democrats said the national economy is “a lot” or “somewhat” better off; 85 percent of Republicans said so.

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The overall praise for the national economy outstrips what voters offered for either the state economy or for their own family situations. Only 18 percent say the state economy has declined over the year, but 42 percent say it’s unchanged and 38 percent say it has improved. When it comes to family finances, 43 percent say they’re better off than they were a year ago, 38 percent say things are about the same and 16 percent say they’re worse off.


Asked how things are going for the country and the state, Texans’ answers flip. While 39 percent think the United States is on the right track, half think it’s on the wrong one. In contrast, 48 percent believe Texas is on the right track and only 36 percent think the state’s taken a bad turn.

Most important problems

One in five Texans said political corruption/leadership is the biggest problem facing the country — a result strongly influenced by Democratic voters. Among Democrats, 31 percent listed that as the biggest problem, while only 12 percent of Republicans did.

“If you hate [Donald] Trump and think the country is really going badly, this is the obvious place to go,” said Daron Shaw, a UT-Austin government professor and co-director of the poll.

Immigration was the top Republican answer for the country’s most important problem. It got 17 percent, while only 5 percent of Democrats put that at the top of their list. A closely related item, border security, was the top choice of 10 percent of Republicans; no Democrats listed that as the top problem facing the country.

The same three items led the list of most important issues facing the state, though in different order. Republican sentiment drove Immigration and border security to the top of the list, where those items have persisted through years of UT/TT polling. Political corruption/leadership came in third. Among Republicans, 25 percent put border security on top and 23 percent put immigration on top. The top items for Democrats were political corruption/leadership (16 percent), and health care (11 percent).

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The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 1 to Feb. 12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

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