Yes, I know, there’s some talk that he might try again in 2016. Bring it, I say. In the meantime, PPP shows what might have been in Texas.
Our poll of the state last weekend found Perry leading Obama just 48-47, including a 51-44 deficit with independents. Perry had led Obama by 7 points on a September poll there.
Perry will come home to only a 42% approval rating, with 51% of voters disapproving of him. He’s fallen from 78% to 67% favor with Republicans over the last four months, and independents split against him 35/59. By comparison Obama’s approval rating in Texas is 44%, although his disapproval is also higher than Perry’s at 54%.
Our Texas Presidential poll is another reminder that a Gingrich surge would be very good news for President Obama. Obama actually holds a slight edge over him, 47-45. Only 33% of Texans have a favorable opinion of Gingrich to 53% with a negative one.
The GOP would start out ahead with any of its other potential nominees: Romney and Santorum lead Obama by identical 7 point margins at 49-42, and Paul has a 6 point advantage at 46-40. Democrats’ dream of turning Texas to the blue column doesn’t seem likely to come true this year unless they get the gift of running against Gingrich.
We also tested a three way contest involving Obama and Romney with Paul running as an independent candidate. In that scenario Romney leads Obama just 40-38, with Paul getting 17%. Although a Paul third party bid seems highly unlikely it’s interesting to note that he actually wins the independent vote with 32% to 30% for Obama and 27% for Romney. That really shows the extent to which voters unhappy with both parties this year are at least open to considering an independent candidate.
The poll was done between the 12th and the 15h of January. More here, and full crosstabs are here. Note that the sample voted for John McCain by a 51-40 margin (he won by 55-44 in 2008), and in every other respect I could see sounded perfectly valid for the state. Consider this another data point in my “2012 will be like 2008″ hypothesis. This poll came on the heels of one that had Perry running third in the GOP primary in Texas, which probably didn’t have anything to do with his dropping out shortly thereafter but also probably didn’t help to persuade him otherwise. There’s also a Senate race poll, which is mostly a reflection of name and party ID. Note that frontrunner David Dewhurst doesn’t get a higher level of support than Mitt Romney does. My guess is that if we actually held the election now, Dewhurst would defeat his opponent by a point or two more than Romney defeated Obama, but that’s about it. There’s less room for swing in Presidential years.
Anyway, all the usual caveats apply. For an interesting comparison, see the October, 2011 UT/Texas Trib poll, in which Perry fared the best against Obama, winning 45-37. Romney was the weakest of the Republicans they tested then, barely scraping by on a 36-34 count. Boy, those were the days. If you go back to their May survey, you will see the all-powerful “generic Republican” winning by a convincing yet ultimately illusory margin. Nothing like having to cope with actual candidates to give you a reality check.