The latest Scripps Howard Texas Poll is out, and it shows some interesting numbers for the top Republican politicians in the state.
Out of a sample of Texans identifying themselves as Republican primary voters, 45 percent said they would vote for [Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison for governor if the Republican primary were held now.
Forty-one percent said they would vote for [Governor Rick] Perry, 1 percent said they would prefer another candidate, and 13 percent were undecided. The sample of 393 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Sixty-eight percent of the same group, however, said they would vote for Perry if [Comptroller Carole Keeton] Strayhorn were the challenger. Some 17 percent backed Strayhorn, while the remainder were either undecided or preferred another candidate.
[Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst led Strayhorn, 44 percent to 28 percent, in a hypothetical race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, which also won't be on the ballot until 2006.
The telephone survey was conducted Nov. 14 through Dec. 6 by the Scripps Howard Research Center.
As for the possible KBH/Perry smackdown, SMU prof Cal Jillson tosses off a sound bite in the DMN.
"I see her as the strongest Republican in Texas right now," said Mr. Jillson. "Perry divides people. He's been essentially flat over the last year, whereas Kay has been trending up. That suggests Kay has real strength should she decide to make that move."
According to the survey, Texans give Mr. Perry mixed marks on the job he is doing as governor – 46 percent saying he's doing an excellent or good job and 44 percent saying he's only fair or poor.
By contrast, Ms. Hutchison's job approval is 62 percent. A quarter of voters give her low marks.
"I take Rick Perry to be a placeholder," said Mr. Jillson. "He moved up when Bush went to Washington. He has never really established himself in the minds of Texas voters or even Republicans in a warm and positive way.
"He's there, he's doing fine, he's fighting the fight," he said. "But there are others like Hutchison who have a more positive feel among Republicans and more crossover."
And speaking of our former Governor, the DMN has some numbers on him, too.
The survey also found that President Bush, who has always enjoyed high approval ratings in Texas, has seen his numbers slip to 58 percent. Forty-one percent disapprove of Mr. Bush's job as president.
The latest numbers mark a seven-point drop in Mr. Bush's approval among Texans since August and a 13-point drop since June, according to the survey.