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Texas Watch poll: Perry by 1

We have some new polling data to play with.

A statewide public opinion survey conducted by Republican polling firm Hill Research Consultants on behalf of the Texas Watch Foundation reveals an electorate divided between incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry (42%) and Democratic challenger Bill White (41%), with a significant bloc of voters (14%) still uncommitted to either candidate. Additionally, across partisan, ideological and geographic lines, broad support is expressed for homeowners’ insurance reform proposals.

You can see full crosstabs here. The main point I’d highlight is the partisan breakdown on page 8. White is doing better among Democrats (79-11) than Perry is among Republicans (74-15), and while he trails slightly among independents (37-33) there are a lot of undecideds there. If he can convert the bulk of these undecideds to his side, that’s his path to victory. I believe Perry has a fair amount of soft support, which becomes evident in polls like this that have a greater proportion of undecided voters. The difference between this poll, or a poll like the earlier PPP result that showed a dead heat, and the Rasmussen results we usually see is almost entirely the level of support that Perry gets. I think there’s a significant chunk of the electorate that’s willing to fire Perry but isn’t sold on White, and until that sale gets closed will most likely stick with the devil they know.

As for how to make that sale, that’s what the rest of the poll was about, testing opinions on the insurance reforms that White proposed recently. The bottom line is that they poll well across all groups, and supporting these ideas would be in either candidates’ best interests, both with their own bases and with the undecideds. While it’s true if you accept this poll that Perry would do well to embrace the reforms that Texas Watch advocates, there are two good reasons why he won’t. One is because White was there first, and there’s no way Perry does anything that makes him look like he’s following White’s lead. And two, not to put too fine a point on it but Perry doesn’t agree with the proposed reforms. Far as he’s concerned, whatever the problem is, it’s a job for the Free Market Fairy, and any government regulation would just constitute interference with that. As such, I consider this to be an opening for White to woo some of those undecideds. He’ll have the issue to himself if he pursues it.

Finally, according to the Chron, there was another poll out there as well:

The other poll, commissioned by Democratic philanthropist Bernard Rappaport, had Perry leading 44.4 percent to White’s 40.6 percent, a slight lead for the governor.

[…]

The Rappaport survey of 803 likely voters was conducted Aug. 24-28 by Zogby International and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Zogby survey also asked voters whether Perry deserves to be re-elected or is it time for somebody new. Fifty-one percent said it is time for someone new, including 77 percent of the Democrats and half of the independents.

Again, the main difference between this and the Rasmussen polls is what Perry gets. With PPP coming to town soon, we’ll see if that trend continues.

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One Comment

  1. Ron in Houston says:

    Charles

    Don’t know if you have any data, but I’d love a post on your guess on how Bill White will affect down ballot races in Harris County.