March 22, 2024 7:00am

Right track? Wrong direction? Power Poll respondents not optimistic about nation, state and city future

Relative few Power Poll participants think we're on the right track

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Austin, TX Correspondent
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Only about one in four participants in the March version of the Austin-area Power Poll believes the nation, state and city are on the right track to the future.

Despite that gloomy outlook, and perhaps in an indication of who they blame, half of the respondents said they plan to vote for Democratic President Joe Biden for re-election in November.

And in another possible indication of blame, 55% said they’ll back Democratic nominee Colin Allred, currently a U.S. House member from Dallas, to oust GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in November.

The right-track, wrong-direction question is a classic one that measures current feelings about the overall state of things. In separate questions, Power Poll, which seeks input from civic, political, business, community and governmental leaders, posed the question about the nation, state and city.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said the nation is on the right track. Fifty percent said the nation is headed in the wrong direction. And 26% said the nation’s direction is somewhat misguided.

Austin lawyer Becky Beaver went with “somewhat misguided” on the nation’s direction.

“I think that the Biden administration has done as good a job as it can do, given the dysfunction of the current House of Representatives leadership. Further, the Supreme Court's hard right turn toward theocracy and rampant voting restrictions should be of great concern to all who value democracy,” she respoded. “And their pending dismantling of all regulatory authority should terrify any young person who would have any chance at combatting climate change.”

The results were similar for the state’s direction, with 26% saying the U.S. is on the right track, 53% saying it’s the wrong direction and 21% saying it’s somewhat misguided.

“Is Texas on the right track? “ said respondent Josh Lash, founder of Farm to Table food service delivery. “Well if you are a fan of the Taliban, then that's what we've got with the Republican Party in Texas. Really! Except the Texas Taliban wear suits.”

Results also were similar about Austin’s direction, with 25% saying the city is on the right track, 43% saying it’s destined in the wrong direction and 33% saying it’s somewhat misguided.

“The City of Austin's failure to plan decades ago has now caught up with us,” attorney Beaver said, “and the state's war on its own municipalities makes running and funding a city government almost impossible.”

Jessica Arjet, youth director for The Hideout Theatre, is concerned that the national and state governments “are currently being exploited by people who want power and are willing to manipulate situations and laws to get their way. I wish they would focus on what is right for the country rather than what will serve as short term gain for themselves and their party.”

Aubrey Carter, a Clarksville Community Development Corporation board member, thought the right track/wrong direction question lacked needed nuance.

“I think our current national administration is doing and has done a good job of keeping us afloat,” Carter said, “but there are extremist factions working hard to limit non-white, non-Christian access to representation in our state and our nation. Very dangerous.”

With Biden and Republican Donald Trump having secured their probable nominations for a rematch of the 2020 contest won by Biden, 50% of Power Poll respondents said they’re voting for the current incumbent and 23% said they’re backing the former incumbent.

Not insignificantly, 23% said they’re looking for a third option and 3% said they’ll skip the presidential race.

In the Senate race in which Cruz is seeking a third, six-year term, 55% of respondents said they’ll back Allred, who easily defeated state Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio and seven other challengers in the March Democratic primary. Thirty-three percent said they’ll vote for Cruz, 11% sided with undecided and 2% are looking for another option.

Mark Terry, deputy executive director of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, summed up his thoughts on the current state of politics with this:

“Years ago my son asked me why I voted Republican and I told him that is where I found men and women of honesty, integrity and held to my personal values. After the primary, we revisited that question and I have been proved wrong.”

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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