Unaccompanied migrant boys during the one hour they get for exercise at the CBP migrant processing center in El Paso on March 29, 2021.

Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

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Texas voters concerns reflect a surge at the state’s Mexican border, UT/TT Poll finds

The pandemic and the border top the list of Texas voters’ concerns about issues facing the country, with 16% pointing to the coronavirus and 16% choosing immigration and border security as the top issues, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

That’s a marked change from the previous poll, reflecting both the crisis on the border and continued improvement in key pandemic measurements and increasing numbers of vaccinations. In the February UT/TT Poll, coronavirus (24%), political corruption/leadership (16%) and the economy (8%) led the list of trouble facing the nation; immigration and border security were listed as top concerns by 7%.

Partisans have distinctly different views: Coronavirus is the top concern of 30% of Democrats, while 31% of Republican voters list immigration and border security as the most important problems facing the country.

The same shift is evident in voters’ choices of top issues facing the state. Border security and immigration remain the biggest problems, according to 37% of Texas voters, followed by the coronavirus (12%) and political corruption/leadership (11%). In that February poll, border security and immigration combined were top concerns for 25% of voters, with coronavirus at 19%.

A 65% majority of Republican voters chose either immigration or border security as their top concern. Among Democrats, 24% chose coronavirus and 22% chose political corruption/leadership. Only 3% of Republicans said the pandemic is the most important problem facing Texas; 6% of Democrats pointed to immigration and border security.

A 59% majority of Texas voters — including 92% of the state’s Republican voters — disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of immigration and border security. Democrats are more approving, but their 49% support of his actions in this area fall short of a majority among his own party’s voters. Only 18% of Democrats said they approve “strongly” of the president’s handling of matters on the U.S. border with Mexico.

More Texans are optimistic (39%) than concerned (29%) about the state’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity. That optimism is shared by 59% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans, while 25% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans expressed concern. Forty percent of Republican voters said they don’t have an opinion.

A slim majority, 51% of all voters, agreed with this statement: “Undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately.” That has moved since the February UT/TT Poll, when 45% agreed with that statement and 47% disagreed. Among Democrats, 74% strongly disagreed, while 82% of Republicans agreed with that statement.

Among Hispanic voters, 39% agreed with immediate deportation and 47% disagreed. Black voters had similar sentiments, with 37% agreeing and 47% disagreeing. Most white voters — 58% — agreed, while 37% disagreed.

Most Texas voters would not turn away unaccompanied minors seeking to enter the U.S., but 37% would do so. The rest agreed with one of these two statements: “They should be housed in government facilities until relatives can be found,” 24%; or “They should be allowed to enter the United States to be cared for by religious or charitable organizations until relatives or suitable homes can be found,” 29%. A 59% majority of Republicans would turn those minors away at the border, a view shared by 12% of Democrats and 36% of independents.

The economy and direction of the U.S. and Texas

More than half of Texas voters — 57% — think the country is on the wrong track, a view shared by 88% of Republicans and 53% of independent voters. Among Democrats, 63% said the country is on the right track.

That flips when voters are asked about the state. Overall, 42% think the state is on the right track, and the same number think things are going in the wrong direction. Among Democrats, 66% said the state is on the wrong track; among Republicans, 65% said Texas is on the right track. Independent voters split: 33% like the state’s direction, and 36% don’t.

Voters’ takes on the national economic situation seem guided by their partisan leanings as well. Overall, 31% said things are better now for the national economy than they were a year ago. That’s driven by 54% of Democrats. But 43% of all voters said the economy is worse than it was a year ago, a number driven by 70% of Republicans, who said things were better a year ago than they are now.

Not surprisingly, approval of Biden’s handling of the economy was much higher among Democrats (80%) than other groups. Only 5% of Republicans approve, while 84% disapprove.

Voter’s wallets seem to guide their assessments of their personal economic situation. Overall, 21% said they and their families are better off now than a year ago, 23% are worse off, and 53% said they’re in about the same shape. Across party lines, 52% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans and 52% of independent voters said they’re in about the same shape economically as they were a year ago.

And that holds true for their opinions about the Texas economy. Overall, 23% said things are better now, 33% said things were better a year ago, and 37% said they’re about the same. Those numbers were reasonably consistent across party lines.

Women were less likely to say their personal economics had improved: 15% said so, while 24% said things are worse than they were a year ago and 56% said their finances are about the same. Among men, 27% said things are better now, 22% said they were better then and 50% said things are about the same now as they were a year ago.

The minimum wage in the U.S. is currently $7.25 an hour, and 61% of Texans said they would favor increasing it. That includes support from 89% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans; a majority of Republicans (54%) oppose an increase.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from April 16-22 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100% because of rounding.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Reference

UT/TT Poll, April 2021, Summary/Methodology

(230.1 KB)

Reference

UT/TT Poll, April 2021, Crosstabs

(1.3 MB)

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