Maybe not so many people.
If he really wants to run for another term as governor — as he told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday — Rick Perry has some work ahead of him. While 39 percent of Texas voters said they would be likely to support him in 2014, 51 percent said they wouldn’t, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.
The supporters are less intense than the opponents: 21 percent said they would be “very likely” to support another term for the governor, while 42 percent said they would be “very unlikely.” One in 10 voters were undecided on the re-election question.
“It’s not that Perry is dead,” said Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. “But the notion that he’s invulnerable is dead.”
Like I said, I hope he does run. No guarantees of course, and the old saying about being careful what you wish for is hanging over my head right now, but I see a number of positive possible outcomes if he saddles up yet again. Burka thinks Perry is just posturing with an eye on 2016 and that he wont run again because he can’t risk losing, but I’m not sure I credit him with that much forethought. Frankly, there’s one person who can settle this quickly, and that’s AG Greg Abbott. If tomorrow he calls up a reporter and says something like “Well, I don’t know what Governor Perry’s plans are for the future, but I know what mine are, and they include a gubernatorial campaign in 2014″, I daresay we’d know shortly thereafter if Perry is bluffing or not.
Two other things about the poll. One is that Perry’s approval rating is essentially unchanged from three months ago when he was still a viable Presidential candidate. Here’s the current accounting, which you can see in the poll details:
1. Approve strongly 13% 2. Approve somewhat 25% 3. Neither approve nor disapprove 15% 4. Disapprove somewhat 15% 5. Disapprove strongly 30% 6. Don’t know 2%
And here’s the same data from the October poll:
1. Approve strongly 14% 2. Approve somewhat 25% 3. Neither approve nor disapprove 14% 4. Disapprove somewhat 13% 5. Disapprove strongly 31% 6. Don’t know 2%
Hard to believe there could be someone without an opinion on Rick Perry, isn’t it? The other point has to do with that Presidential poll I discussed previously. It doesn’t say till the end of the story, but the sample is made up entirely of registered voters. I finally figured out what their “Likely voter” screen was – here it is, in the description before Question 14, the first question about their preferred candidate for the GOP nomination:
“Likely Voters” were defined as those who indicated that they were either “Extremely” or “Somewhat” interested in politics in Q2 AND either voted in “Every” or “Almost every” election in Q3.
I think that’s too tight a screen. Twenty-two percent of respondents claimed to have voted in “about half” or “one or two” elections in the “past two or three years”. Both of those answers strike me as being about the same thing, but it doesn’t really matter. How many people do you think who actually do vote in off-year elections skip the Presidential year? Not too many, I daresay. I will note again that the same number of people in the sample – 89% – claimed to be either “Extremely” or “Somewhat” interested in politics and also were able to say they voted for someone in 2008. I don’t see any good reason to shrink the sample beyond that. I strongly suspect that by doing so, the “likely voter” sample skews Republican, as we see here in Houston during our odd-numbered-year elections. As Steve Singiser noted, it’s uncommon to see that wide a disparity between “registered voters” and “likely voters” for a Presidential poll. If nothing else, I think the story should have noted this distinction more clearly, ideally by citing the alternate results that one must otherwise hunt down on one’s own. The fact that not a single mainstream media outlet that I saw that picked up the Trib’s poll result mentioned the full sample result demonstrates how well that was obscured.
UPDATE: The Trib wonders what Abbott will do, too.