February 27, 2009
One more PPP poll

PPP does the Governor's race, general election-style.

Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry would both best Democrat Tom Schieffer in a potential gubernatorial face off next year, although the race has some potential to be competitive if the current Governor is renominated.

Hutchison leads Schieffer 54-30 while Perry has a 45-35 advantage over him, below the magic 50% number considered safe for incumbents.

Hutchison appears to be close to unbeatable in a general election. She pulls 20% of the Democratic vote, has a 23 point lead among independents, and has 86% of Republicans committed to voting for her.

Perry's standing pales on all three of those fronts. Only 13% of Democrats say they would vote for him, he actually trails Schieffer by a small amount among independents, and he gets a smaller 78% segment of the Republican vote.

Perry would certainly still be favored over Schieffer, but compared to Hutchison his winning the GOP primary would leave the door ever so slightly open for a possible Democratic takeover. If Hutchison is the victor that door is pretty much shut.

Hutchison is the only one of the trio with a positive favorability rating. 58% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of her compared to 31% who view her negatively. 48% have an unfavorable take on Perry compared to 41% who give him their approval, and Schieffer's breakdown is 25/31.

Again, this is basically "Well-known R" versus "Unknown D", with the added zest of KBH's positives and Rick Perry's not-so-positives. While KBH's better performance in this matchup is hardly surprising, I'll just note that Rick Perry has twelve full months to do something about her favorability rating, and I wouldn't underestimate him on that score. Let's check this again in September or so and see where we stand.

In the meantime, it's possible KBH could wind up with a bit of a John McCain problem. She's generally well-liked and does as well as she does in these polls because she has a fairly moderate image. If she feels the need to run right to win the GOP nomination, or if Perry's attacks force her to the right, some of that sheen may come off for independent voters and soft Ds. It certainly doesn't have to play out this way - if the Dems don't have a primary worth voting in, she can court voters outside the GOP base and try to swamp Perry's boat that way. Or his attacks may hurt him more than they hurt her. She's clearly in the better position, I just don't think it's impregnable.

As for the matter of a Dem primary, Todd Hill says Schieffer's entry is a matter of when, not if, so I suppose at the least we'll have Schieffer versus Kinky Friedman for the brass ring. Yeah, I know, I'm tingling all over at that prospect, too. Having said that, I wish PPP had done a KBH/Perry versus Friedman poll, if only for the entertainment value. I really have no idea how he'd do in such a survey, though if I had to bet I'd say he would not fare as well as a generic D. Still would have been nice to have the data point. Maybe next time, assuming there isn't a better matchup to test out (*cough* *cough* Leticia Van de Putte *cough* *cough*).

UPDATE: And here we have further confirmation of Schieffer's candidacy.

Fort Worth Democrat Tom Schieffer, who has served as U.S. ambassador to Japan and Australia, is all but certain to run for governor and will announce the formation of an exploratory committee Monday in Austin.

"He indicated to me that if he was going to announce, it would be on Texas Independence Day," said Austin attorney Joe Longley, a longtime friend.

Sources close to Schieffer said he would have a news conference in the Speaker's Committee Room at the Texas Capitol. Rep. Paula Pierson, D-Arlington, said that she had reserved the room and that "possibly" Schieffer would be there.

In an interview in Washington, Schieffer, 61, said, "I will make a decision on Sunday after I meet with my family." He first expressed interest publicly in the post two weeks ago in an interview with the Star-Telegram.

"I have continued to check with people I know all over the state, and I have received an incredible response," said Schieffer, shaking his head. "I have been amazed at the reaction."

Whatever else happens, I'm glad he'll be in. We needed something to counterbalance the Rick-n-Kay story line, and if there is a competitive Democratic primary for Governor, that makes it less likely KBH can run an appeal-to-everyone primary campaign. I look forward to Schieffer's announcement.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 27, 2009 to Election 2010

Really? To me, Schieffer seems like he stepped out of a time machine from around 1987, when the Texas Democratic Party was still about half Republicans-waiting-to-jump. Think Rick Perry and Phil Graham.

I mean what are his Dem credentials? That he worked overseas for W? I don't see a lot of Democratic primary voters being wooed by that.

Posted by: Brown Bess on February 27, 2009 12:14 PM

BB, I hope I've been clear that I don't consider him to be the best candidate. Not by a long shot. I think he at least has a chance to be a credible candidate, and as long as we have such a candidate actively running - in other words, a non-Kinky candidate - then at least the Rick-n-Kay story line gets altered to include that candidate's views as well. I say that's a good thing, and if his entry spurs someone else, someone better, to come along as well, it's a great thing.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 27, 2009 4:09 PM
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