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PPP poll: Perry 43, White 43

This will likely shake things up a bit.

One of the biggest questions about the 2010 election cycle, which we still don’t really know the answer to, is whether it will be solely an anti-Democratic year or more broadly an anti-incumbent year. Our newest Texas poll would seem to suggest voter fatigue toward long serving politicians in both parties- Republican Governor Rick Perry is now tied at 43 with Democratic challenger Bill White.

Texas would seem an unlikely candidate to provide Democrats their biggest win of the election cycle but the Governor’s race there is a reminder that candidates matter. Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in the state like the job Perry is doing while 49% disapprove. Among independents the numbers are particularly bad- just 27% give Perry good marks to 55% who think he’s doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.

The full poll memo is here. There are two main differences I see between this and other polls that we’ve seen, namely the Trib poll and the millions of Rasmussen results. One is that PPP’s sample is registered voters, not “likely” voters. Rasmussen applies a voter screen, and the Trib poll was done via “proprietary opt-in survey panel”, which tends to give you a more engaged sample, something that is borne out in their crosstab data – see, for example page 5. It’s possible Perry’s support is more concentrated among those who really will vote. We don’t have any way to judge that from this data.

The other thing is that the PPP sample is more disapproving of Perry than the Trib and especially Rasmussen. Perry’s approval numbers weren’t stellar in the Trib poll from last month, but they were in positive territory, 41.7 approve to 39.8 disapprove. It’s also possible that the Governor’s mansion stuff is sticking to him and dragging his numbers down. You’ll note that while White’s 43% support is fairly consistent with most other polls, including a PPP poll from February (*) that had Perry up 48-42, Perry’s 43% is his lowest showing yet, dipping below the 44% he got (against 35 for White) in the May Trib poll. As with any other result, one data point can only tell you so much – we’ll have to see if any other pollster out there sees something similar.

Anyway. This is the strongest result White has seen yet, and an encouraging if not conclusive sign that people may be turning against Perry. Burka, BOR, and Abby Rapoport have more.

(*) PPP referenced a Perry/White poll from four months ago, but all I could find in their archives was a poll of the primaries. Maybe they had a general election poll but didn’t publicize it, I don’t know.

UPDATE: Never mind, here’s that earlier PPP poll. And Texas Politics has some interesting data points.

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