Texans Rate Immigration Top State Concern, Economy Top U.S. Problem | KERA News

Texans Rate Immigration Top State Concern, Economy Top U.S. Problem

Dallas, TX – Many Texans believe the biggest issues facing the country are different than those facing Texas. That's the result of a statewide poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune. KERA's Shelley Kofler takes a look.

Texas voters identified the economy and unemployment as the most important problems facing the country, but said in Texas immigration is the biggest concern.

That comes as Governor Rick Perry's presidential campaign has attracted scrutiny of immigration and border policies in Texas.

University of Texas government professor Jim Hensen says the perceived difference in problems also reflects the much repeated message that the economy is better in Texas. Hensen helped direct the statewide poll.

Hensen: The recession has not hit Texas as hard as it has the rest of the country.

Now, we may see that change. There's a history in Texas of there being a lag in economic hardship in what happens to the U.S. overall and what happens in Texas, but I think we're coming to a point of thinking that because we avoided the real estate bubble we may never dip as low as the rest of the country.

Texans, however, are concerned about trends in their state. When asked if Texas is moving in the right direction 43 percent said no, compared with 39 percent who believe the state is on the right track.

However, when asked the same question about the country, Texans were downright hostile. Three-quarters- 75 percent- said the country is headed in the wrong direction. Henson says those surveyed may be blaming a downturn in Texas on forces beyond its borders. Hensen: I think there is anxiety beginning to set in as the national recession stretches out and the recovery seems slow if there is one at all. That affects people's view of the country as well as the state.

Many Texans also believe they are personally losing ground. When asked to compare their family's economy now to a year ago, 16 percent said they're better off, but 43 percent said their situation is worse.

Email Shelley Kofler

UT-Austin / Texas Tribune Survey