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Would KBH have beaten Perry in the primary?

Among the stories that I wasn’t able to read last week was this one which contained some poll numbers for the KBH-Perry primary matchup that we won’t get to see.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would have been a strong front-runner among likely Republican voters if she’d challenged Gov. Rick Perry one-on-one next year, according to a survey conducted by a firm hired by her campaign.

A memo summarizing the April survey and obtained by the Austin American-Statesman says that, at the time, about 59 percent leaned toward Hutchison, with 33 percent favoring Perry.

The numbers might dampen speculation that Hutchison avoided running against Perry out of concern that he’d steeled support among GOP activists. It likewise leaves in question why she didn’t try and suggests that Perry has ground to cover with voters.

I’m one of those people who has believed that Perry has mostly locked up the GOP primary vote, since just about everything he’s done lately has been aimed towards those voters. There’s not a lot of data about this survey here (sample size? margin of error? question wording? etc), so I can’t say definitively that this has debunked those beliefs, but surely a poll conducted by her campaign for the primary would have at least tried to identify likely primary voters. You do have to wonder how big the horsehead was that someone put in her bed to dissuade her from this race. The idea that her change of mind was simply good manners on her part is ridiculous to me (link via PerryVsWorld).

Lance Tarrance, who conducted the survey, said Wednesday that a smaller sampling conducted last week showed 24 percent definitely favoring Perry and another 21 percent probably favoring Perry over a new Republican.


Tarrance said: “Not knowing more than we know today, she would have beaten the living fire out of Perry. I don’t think there’s anything else to conclude. Perry ought to be very lucky that she stayed out.”

It’s only one poll, it’s a long way to next March, and Rick Perry had not yet begun to crank up the slime machine, but yeah. He should feel lucky that she chose a different path.

Now the question becomes “Can Carole Keeton Strayhorn win by being the not-Rick-Perry candidate?” This poll suggests that maybe she can. PinkDome and BOR add their thoughts. I still make Perry the favorite here, but let’s just say that I’ll be awaiting the next poll very eagerly.

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  1. kevin whited says:

    KBH could have made the thing a very competitive race, but it would almost certainly have come at the cost of party cohesion.

    What if this had gone differently? What if KBH had started making noise about running, and GOP leaders cleared the way for her by appointing Perry to a high-level cabinet post, or something else?

    That didn’t happen. She faced being the one who established intra-party bloodbaths as precedent in Texas Republican politics. I don’t think she wanted to be the one to do that, however convinced she was she could win.

    That may not have been the only reason she decided not to run, but Dr. Hill’s characterization of her decision is not ridiculous.

    And now her party owes her one. And I suspect she’ll be repaid by having the way cleared to run for governor in four years — not that she’ll need it cleared.

  2. ttyler5 says:

    As I described in an earlier post, there’s much more to it than even those poll numbers show, and I was very surprised when she backed out. The gop missed a real opportunity to move from about a %60 statewide share to a %70 or higher statewide share.

    For example, I’m sure Tarrance was polling regular gop primary voters. But KBH is immensely popular and would have pulled voters from everywhere, not just the regular gop primary voters.

    Had she stayed in after Strayhorn’s announcement, creating a heated and controversial 3-way race in which many millions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of man-hours would have been expended alongside of heated campaigns for all the offices her run for governor would have opened up, the turn-out for the gop primary would have been nearly as large as the turn out for many statewide general elections from the recent past. This would have included a record number of women voters in the gop primary, as well as a record number of hispanic voters turning out for Henry Bonilla in the senate race.

    But then again, who needs to go to a %70 share when you’ve already got a %60 share?

    Especially when you’ve got a senior senator up for a powerful senate position which will greatly enhance the collective power of the Texas congressional delegation. The powers that be in Texas — and this includes the gop, democrat and both-sides-of-the-coin powers that be — have always played for position in the Congress, in fact they are famous for it.

  3. Bill Howell says:

    Charles, it wasn’t a horsehead, it was the key to the old Naval Observatory. They think she’ll help them defeat the Demoness from NY in 2008.