Some interesting poll numbers from Zogby at the Wall Street Journal (link via Kos). Let's start with the Texas Governor's race, where a three-way battle shows Rick Perry at 40.1%, Chris Bell at 27.2%, and Kinky Friedman at 18%. A separate poll shows Carole Keeton Strayhorn topping Bell 34.6% to 26%. Any numbers for Friedman are not included in that matchup, though the accompanying blurb alludes to Kinky getting "at least 18%" in "various potential three-way matchups".
Let's start by saying, once again, that Rick Perry's poll numbers suck. Forty percent? That number represents a drop from August, too, though whether it's due to him, Bell, Friedman, or random noise is anyone's guess. And while I believe Perry will get a bounce in approval ratings from his handling of Katrina, I don't think that will necessarily translate into votes. If this isn't rock bottom for him, I don't know what would be.
As for Bell, I think Greg is correct to suggest that this is mostly a function of name ID. It'd be nice if there were a Perry/Sharp pairing for comparison purposes, but there isn't. (A straight-up Perry/Bell poll would've been useful, too.) I note that Strayhorn does considerably worse against Bell than Perry does. I've heard a lot of people suggest that Rick Perry is the most vulnerable Republican statewide candidate. That's a view that I generally subscribe to, so seeing Perry do better against his likely Democratic opponent than Strayhorn makes me wonder. I suspect name ID is in play there as well, however, so I won't read too much into it for now.
Bell certainly has room to grow, once he has the money to run some advertisements and get his name out there. If one believes that this number represents Rick Perry's base of support, then what follows is that he ought to focus on the undecideds and the Kinky voters. That doesn't mean he should let up on Perry - it means he needs to convince the 60% of voters who are apparently already open to voting for someone else that he's the best alternative. I think for the most part his message is well tailored for that, but until more of the audience hears it we can't know for sure.
As for Kinky, eighteen percent is perhaps a little higher than I'd have expected for now, but it's in line with what I think he'd get if he does actually run. My reason for this is based on what I think the unshakeable support is for each party's candidate. For Democrats, I think it's in the vicinity of 35%, based on the results of the 2000 Senatorial race (Hutchison 65%, placeholder Dem 32%) and the 2002 Comptroller race (Rylander/Strayhorn 64%, placeholder Dem 33%; Lib and Green candidates combined for about 3% in each). For Republicans, I'll go with the 40% that Perry is currently pulling - obviously, they've done considerably better than that in real elections of late, but they've never had anyone quite as battered as the 2006 version of Rick Perry on the ticket.
The bottom line here is that if I'm right, that puts Kinky's ceiling at about 25%, which needless to say isn't going to be enough to win. I'm guessing that he didn't do significantly better than that 18% cited in any other "potential" (read: ain't gonna happen) three-way race, or Zogby might have played it up a bit. I also don't have a good feel for what his name ID actually is. Sure, he's a celebrity, but he's a niche celebrity, best known for raunchy music and mystery novels - in short, Schwarzeneggar, hell even Jesse Ventura, he ain't. I think he has the potential to go up, especially if Perry's baseline support isn't as solid as I think and/or if Bell can't get his name out there, and if he can steal some more disillusioned Perry voters away he could even make this a 30/30/30 kind of race, but I have serious doubts about that. I think he'll be more like Ross Perot, superficially attractive but ultimately someone who peaks early and tails off as the race wears on. Of course, that means he could have an effect on the race, especially if he cracks 20% at the end.
Let's move to the Senate race, where there's good news and bad news for Democrats. The good news is that Senator Supposedly Popular gets a maximum of 51.6% in the matchups they polled. Forgive me if I seem underwhelmed by that, given her alleged status as an electoral juggernaut. I suppose Zogby could be undersampling Republicans, and given that KBH pulled 55%+ in August, maybe this too is just random chance, but still. Fifty-one percent?
The bad news is that Zogby, for reasons unclear to me, is polling Hutchison against three Democrats who are known to be not running against her: Ron Kirk, who announced his non-candidacy months ago; John Sharp, who is now apparently a non-candidate for Governor; and Kirk Watson, who is a candidate for Senate, just not that Senate. Why they chose to do this and not ask about the one person who absolutely is running against Hutchison is one of life's little mysteries. I guess it's possible that they did do such a poll, and the numbers were so awful for Radnofsky that they chose not to publish the results on the free WSJ link. Call me crazy, but if that's true, then it sounds more like news to me than the equivalent of three fantasy football matchups for KBH. Given that, I'm sticking with the oversight explanation until I'm told otherwise.
Nationally, the news is pretty decent overall for Democrats, both in gubernatorial and senatorial races. Check it out, and check back next month so we'll know if we have any honest-to-goodness trends on our hands.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 04, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack