There’s a common perception among non-Texans that residents of the Lone Star State identify with their geographic boundaries more than folks in any other state in the union.
But according to a new poll by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, the propensity to self-classify as a “Texan first” is not as pronounced as many might think.
Pollsters asked respondents if they viewed themselves as Texans first and Americans second, or the other way around. Only slightly more than one-quarter (27 percent) identified as Texans first.
The numbers break down along some predictable lines. While the majorities of Republicans and conservatives still call themselves Americans first, they are more likely than Democrats and liberals to feel a stronger connection with their Texas roots.
Men are more likely than women to choose state over country.
What is rather surprising, though, are the generational and ethnic divides that have emerged. Hispanics are more likely than Anglos to choose state above country, as are younger Texans.
The Tribune reports that “a slight majority of those who identify as Texans first are between the ages of 18 and 44 years old. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 40 percent identify as Texans before they identify as Americans, far outpacing any other age group.”
To the Tribune, this suggests the possibility for future growth of the “Texans first” crowd.
But that could be complicated by the state’s population boom. Chasing jobs and prosperity, almost 400,000 people made Texas their migration destination for the 12 months that ended July 1, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. And who knows where their loyalties will lie?
The transcendent power of Texas identity politics is one that many would argue has influenced both state and national elections over the last two decades.
If the growth continues, changing political demographics and voter preferences will be something to watch.