The economy clearly leads Texans' list of concerns about the country in the inaugural University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
The most-mentioned items are all about the pocketbook: The economy, unemployment/jobs, and federal spending/national debt.
Taken together, those three things were mentioned by 53 percent of the poll's respondents. Only two other issues — political corruption/leadership, and health care — were mentioned by more than 10 percent. Immigration was the most-mentioned problem facing the state of Texas, mentioned by 19 percent. Jobs/unemployment, the economy, and border security were the only other issues that were top concerns to 10 percent or more of the population.
In both questions about problems, past hot-button issues barely registered: gay marriage, taxes, gas prices, and welfare. The list of state issues Texans aren't particularly worried about also included some traditional heavies, including voting system, abortion, transportation, insurance rates and taxes.
Texans are evenly split when asked whether the state is on the right or the wrong track, with 38 percent on one side of that question and 39 percent on the other. They agree by a nearly two-to-one margin that the country is on the wrong track, with 32 saying the U.S. is going in the right direction, and 59 percent saying the country is on the wrong track.
Only 24 percent think the country is in better economic shape than a year ago, and 59 percent think things are worse. Asked about their personal finances, 17 percent considered themselves better off, 39 percent said things are about the same, and 43 percent said they were "somewhat" or "a lot" worse off than they were last year.
The federal government is making it harder to dig out of the recession, according to 43 percent of those polled, while 28 percent thought the government is helping, and the rest think the federal intervention into the economy isn't really doing that much. The Texas state government has even less effect, in their eyes; 43 percent said the state government's efforts aren't doing much either way to improve the economy.
Nearly two-thirds of Texans are happy with their and their family's health care, and about half aren't worried they'll lose their insurance coverage in the next year.
Asked whether they'd prefer government insurance, private insurance or something in the middle, more than half pick private and only 31 percent pick government coverage. The poll asked a number of questions about health care, with these results:
• 57 percent think it's important that every American have health care insurance.
• They're divided when asked whether government-run insurance should compete with private coverage.
• 80 percent think it's important to keep any health care reform from adding to the national debt.
• 78 percent want to end "frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits."
• 80 percent would stop the denial of health coverage for preexisting conditions.
• All but a handful — 88 percent — think individuals should control their own health insurance.
• 79 percent think it's important to protect the Medicare program from cuts.
• 78 percent would support expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program so long as families pay part of their own bills.
They disapprove, and by about the same margins, of the way Obama and the Democrats, on one hand, and the Republicans in Congress, on the other, are handling health care. Obama and the Democrats won the disapproval of 58 percent of Texans; Republicans of 54 percent.
Texas remain split over illegal immigration, with 50 percent saying undocumented workers should be deported and 41 percent saying those workers should be given a chance to keep their jobs and to apply for citizenship.
Texans oppose "cap and trade" legislation that would limit companies' greenhouse gas emissions by a margin of 37 to 44. But they support government requirements to make residential, commercial, and industrial buildings energy efficient.
They're split on the quality of public education in Texas: 48 percent consider it "not very good" or "terrible." But 47 percent consider the schools "excellent" or "good".
They're split on abortion and choice, with groups of similar size saying women should always be able to abortions and that it should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Finally, in answer to a question that's been in the news, 52 percent of Texas voters say it's not appropriate for a governor to remove a sitting appointee from office for political reasons. Only 26 percent think the governor should do that.
The Internet survey of 800 registered voters was conducted October 20-27 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent.
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- October 2009 Poll Methodology (151.1 KB) DOWNLOAD
- University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, day 2 (155.0 KB) DOWNLOAD