I have three things to say about this.
Texas voters- even Republicans- have had enough of Rick Perry.
PPP’s newest poll finds that only 31% of voters think Perry should seek reelection next year, compared to 62% who think it’s time for him to step aside. He’s among the most unpopular Governors in the country, with only 41% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove.
Perry could face great peril in a primary challenge next year. Only 41% of GOP primary voters want him to be their candidate again, compared to 47% who think it’s time for someone else. And in a head to head match up with Attorney General Greg Abbott, Perry leads by only a 41/38 margin. What makes those numbers particularly worrisome for Perry is that Abbott only has 59% name recognition at this point with primary voters. Among voters who are familiar with Abbott- whether they like him or not- he leads Perry 55/33. That suggests the potential for things to get worse for Perry if Abbott does indeed go forward with a bid.
The Abbott threat to Perry does not represent the typical Tea Party insurgency that has endangered many Republican office holders over the last couple election cycles. GOP voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative’ want Perry to be their candidate again by a 53/33 margin. But moderates (77/15) and voters identifying as just ‘somewhat conservative’ (49/38) are both ready for a change.
If Abbott ends up being the Republican nominee for Governor next year, the party’s 20 year lock on that office in Texas should be pretty safe. We find him up 7-12 points against all the Democrats we tested- 46/39 over 2010 nominee Bill White, 46/36 over San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 46/34 over State Senator Wendy Davis, and 47/35 over Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Speaking to the difficulty in breaking through in a state the size of Texas, none of the Democrats are terribly well known- White has 58% name recognition, Castro’s is 53%, Davis’ is 34%, and Parker’s is 33%.
Democrats, however, would have a better than normal chance at winning the Governor’s office if Perry did somehow make it through to be the nominee for another term. We find White actually slightly ahead of him at 47/44. And although Perry leads Castro (47/42), Davis (47/41), and Parker (47/40) the margins are all a good deal narrower than they are for Abbott against the same foes.
The full crosstabs are here, and as always that’s where the real action is. My three points:
1. While a majority of respondents say Perry should not run again, 55% of Republicans polled say he should. That’s the number to look at, and it’s the number Rick Perry will pay attention to. Don’t assume he can’t win another primary.
2. Note that Abbott and Perry both get roughly the same level of support in each featured matchup. In the crosstabs, they each get about the same amount of Republican and Democratic support, with each Democrat getting about the same level of Republican support but slightly softer Democratic support – basically, a few points shift from them to “not sure” against Abbott. I would not make much of that. The difference maker is in Independent/Other support. Every Dem gets at least a plurality of it against Perry, with Bill White getting a majority, but that flips when Abbott is the Republican – he gets a plurality against everyone except White, but White loses five points of Republican support against him. My interpretation of this is that the “Independent/Other” category contains a lot of November Republicans. That suggests to me that the best bet to compete against Abbott, whose numbers are hardly overwhelming, is to tie him as tightly as possible to Perry. There’s no real difference between them on the issues, and he’s been in office forever as well, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do.
3. For all the 2014 candidate speculation so far, I hadn’t given any thought to Bill White. That’s mostly because White hasn’t made any sign of being interested in another shot at the office, as well as the emergence of several alternatives. White did win a lot of Republican votes from Perry in 2010 – I firmly believe that in a 2008 context, White could have won – though how much of that was him and how much of it was Perry is unclear. Still, it’s worth it to ask him about 2014, if only to get his denial on the record so as not to take poll results like this with too much hope.
And from their second day release, another interesting result:
Overall on the issue of guns Texans say they trust the NRA over President Obama by a 47/43 margin.
And despite all of that 49% of Texas voters support an assault weapons ban to just 41% opposed to it. Most Democrats support it, independents favor it by a 53/34 margin, and even among Republicans 23% support it. We’ve found support for the assault weapons ban everywhere we’ve polled it, but it’s particularly striking to see that voters favor it in a pro-gun, anti-Obama state like Texas.
Interesting, no? Ted Cruz recently predicted that the push for an assault weapon ban would hand the Senate to the Republicans next year. Perhaps this is just another issue on which he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Anyway. That set of results also showed John Cornyn with roughly the same lead over the aforementioned Democrats as Perry and Abbott have, with no indication that he has much to worry about in a primary. Of course, we know how that can go around here. BOR and Texpatriate have more.