PPP: Perry takes lead on Obama in Texas

Not by that much, however.

Rick Perry has an under water approval rating in Texas and he’s leading Barack Obama by a smaller margin than John McCain won the state by in 2008…but at least he is leading Obama, which is more than he could say the last time we polled the state.

45% of Texas voters approve of the job Perry is doing to 48% who disapprove. Those aren’t good numbers but they do represent improvement from a June PPP poll of the state when Perry was at 43/52. The better numbers are attributable to Republicans really rallying around him. He was at 73/21 with them before but now it’s 78/14. He continues to be very unpopular with independents though (32/61) and even in a state that still has a lot of conservative Democrats his crossover support is virtually nonexistent with just 13% of voters approving of him across party lines. The numbers with independents are particularly troublesome for Perry- if that’s where he is with swing voters where they know him best, can he expect to do well with those folks in key swing states like Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia?

Perry leads Obama in a head to head 51-44. Those aren’t terribly impressive numbers given that John McCain defeated Obama by 12 points in the state, but they do at least represent an improvement for Perry since June when he actually trailed the President 47-45. Perry polls the best of any of the Republicans in Texas- Mitt Romney leads Obama by 6 points at 47-41, Ron Paul’s up by a single point at 43-42, and Obama actually leads Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann by 46-45 and 45-43 margins respectively.

See here for the earlier poll details. As I’ve been saying, there’s no evidence so far in Texas that the electorate looks all that different than it did in 2008. Standard disclaimers apply, but so far there have been no poll results that make you sit up and say “Whoa!”

Couple things to ponder here. One is that in recent Presidential elections, the Republican Presidential nominee has done better than Republican downballot candidates. The reason for this has been a greater dropoff in Republican voting downballot than there has been for Democrats – basically, Democratic downballot candidates get almost as many votes as John Kerry and Barack Obama – in some cases, more votes than them – while Republican candidates lose between five and ten percent of the vote total that George Bush and John McCain received. If that pattern continues, it’s not hard to imagine downballot races being quite close, possibly being won with less than 50% of the vote given the three or four percent that Libertarians generally take. On the other hand, as we saw in 2010, there’s a not-insignificant number of Republicans who dislike Perry enough to cross over against him. That’s not quite the case in this poll, as the crosstabs make clear – Perry does best among Republicans by far, but Obama gets a clear majority of independents. I suspect, however, that a significant number of those “independents” are otherwise fairly reliable Republican voters, so it’s hard to say exactly how different this is from 2010. Point being, I don’t have a good feel yet for whether Obama would generally lead or trail other Dems in a matchup with Perry.

Also, as noted by Stace, Obama does well with Hispanics in Texas, but could do even better:

There are a couple things keeping him from getting completely crused in the state though. One is the Hispanic vote- he’s up 28 points on Perry, 35 on Romney and Paul, 43 on Bachmann, and 45 on Gingrich with those voters. In the case of Perry that margin is equal to what Obama won Hispanics by in Texas in 2008 and with the others it’s a wider spread. This is one state anyway where he is not slipping with Latino voters.

NewsTaco has previously noted that Obama polls quite well among Latinos against all of the GOP hopefuls, Perry included. Perry for his part is hoping to do better among Latinos, assuming he doesn’t get teabagged on “sanctuary cities” and his prior support of the DREAM Act. I’ve looked through the 2010 results to see how Perry did in Latino districts compared to other Republicans, and it’s kind of a mixed bag; the numbers get skewed by the races that feature Latinos, and by differing dropoff rates. Having said that, he did better in South Texas than I would have predicted, less well in the urban areas. Put Marco Rubio on the ticket with him and I’d certainly be concerned.

Anyway. Just another data point, which comes just as the real campaign is getting under way. I’ll keep track of these things to see if any trends develop. Greg has more.

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