The Texas economy continues to thrive, and more Texans are starting to feel it themselves. A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of registered Texas voters finds more are optimistic about the economy of the state and the country. The survey has 41 percent saying the country is on the right track, while 47 percent still believe we're heading in the wrong direction. That's up from a year ago, when only 34 percent of Texans thought the country was on the right track and 54 percent said wrong track.
While the positive vibes among Texans are trending upwards, the underlying numbers expose a deep partisanship that appears to be shaping people's opinions more than actual experiences or data. "Overall, we do see the majority of Texans think that the national economy is better off than it was one year ago," says Joshua Blank with the Texas Politics Project, which helped conduct the poll. "But in this sort of hyper-polarized time, Democrats are much more likely to see the economy and the direction of the country in a negative light, and Republicans are far more likely to see it in a positive light."
In particular, Republican feelings about the economy took a big jump after the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016. "From October 2016 to February 2017, the ratings on the economy changed dramatically, and it was driven almost entirely by Republican voters now seeing the economy as doing well," says Blank. As for why there are still so many who are not bullish on the economy, social status also plays a role. "It tends to be the people you would expect," he says. "People without a college degree and minorities in general tend to be more likely to say that they are not better off than they were a year ago."
The partisan divide is clearly evident in the numbers. Among Texas Republicans surveyed, 73 percent believe the country is on the right track. At the same time, 82 percent of Democrats believe the opposite. Similar numbers are found on the Texas economy, with 79 percent of Republicans saying it's headed the right way and 67 percent of Democrats disagreeing.