February 24, 2009
KBH leads Perry in early poll

Last week, the polling firm Public Policy Polling asked the readers of its blog which state they should do next. The readers, with a little help from us bloggers, picked Texas. PPP has the results of its first poll up now, which is a look at the GOP gubernatorial primary.

[Governor Rick] Perry trails Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison 56-31 among likely GOP primary voters.

Hutchison is viewed favorably by 75% of voters likely to vote in the Republican primary, while 60% have a positive opinion of Perry.

The 27% of primary voters who have an unfavorable opinion of Perry are obviously a problem for him. Hutchison leads 85-8 with those voters. But perhaps the even bigger problem for him is the Senator's sheer popularity. 47% of those surveyed have a positive opinion of both Perry and Hutchison, and among those voters she has the 49-33 lead. So while Perry still is viewed positively by a majority of likely primary voters, the simply reality is that they like Hutchison more. He's going to have to change that for any chance at political survival, and that's why this race is already and will continue to be quite a nasty one.

Another problem for Perry is that Hutchison leads with every subgroup of the population PPP tracks by gender, race, and age. There is a slight gender gap with Hutchison leading by 28 among women and 22 with men but it's still a substantial lead either way.

Perry is going to have an uphill climb to keep his seat.

Full results are here (PDF). I agree that this poll doesn't look good for Perry. Having said that, however, it seems to me that there's plenty of room for him to catch up, and not just because we're a year out from the actual election. We all know Rick Perry is going to run a relentlessly negative campaign against KBH. It's his nature and he's got nothing else to run on, but more to the point that's how you run against someone with better positives than you. I don't know how likely he is to succeed - there's always some blowback when you run this way, and sometimes the gap is just too great - but whatever else you may say about Rick Perry, the man knows how to campaign. If nothing else, I fully expect KBH's positives will come down and her negatives will go up, perhaps significantly. And if the Democrats can get behind a good candidate for Governor who can look serious and thoughtful while these two fling poo at each other, so much the better.

One more thing to note: It's possible this won't be a straight-up Perry/KBH race. State Rep. Leo Berman is thinking about making a run, which would amp up the crazy factor a few notches. Debra Medina, a former SREC member and RPT vice chairman candidate, has filed her paperwork to run as well. She apparently has the support of Ron Paul, which should add even more zest to the proceedings. Neither of them has any realistic chance of winning, but I could imagine them affecting the outcome. At the very least, people who don't like Rick Perry but think KBH isn't conservative enough would have someplace else to go. Just something to keep in mind going forward.

We should expect more results from PPP soon, including some Senate matchups and a look at favorability numbers for President Obama. In the meantime, you can follow more GOP primary stuff at the Kay Versus Rick blog, which also has a Twitter feed, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 24, 2009 to Election 2010
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