There has been a dearth of polling on the Texas governor’s race lately, but I have in my hands a poll that was taken October 15-17. Its data set is on the large side, 1,200 respondents, spread proportionately across all of Texas’ regions and media markets. It’s a joint poll by the Texas Civil Justice League, the Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas Medical Association, not an internal of either campaign, though these groups do lean to the right and the TMA and the TCJL’s PAC have endorsed Perry (the Farm Bureau did not endorse either candidate). It has a 2.9% margin of error. The sample yielded 38% self-identified Republicans and 23% Democrats, which isn’t out of line in this Republican state in this Republican-friendly year. Of those who did not identify with either party, 18% lean GOP, 10% lean Democrat, 11% don’t lean. That 23% for Democrats indicates some significant erosion in their strength: in the history profile, 32% had voted in previous Democratic primaries.
If things hold up and nothing crazy happens in Houston, then it’s time to say “Goodnight, Bill White.” Rick Perry will be re-elected to his third full term as governor of the Lone Star State. The poll shows Gov. Perry with a 48-37 lead over the Democrat, with the Libertarian and Green candidates in the outer darkness and 11% undecided. Assume that the undecideds break slightly for White since he’s the challenger, and you end up with this November 2 result:
Perry 53, White 43
The 48-37 is about where the numbers have been since Perry opened up his positive “Texas is Open for Business” ad run plus his security themed media campaign, indicating that Texans who may have flirted briefly with White have been reminded that Texas is in comparatively strong shape and have therefore come home to Perry. “Don’t fire the coach if the team is winning” seems to be the thinking. Absent a very large October Surprise, this race is over and for Republicans, it’s time to run up the score in the state House and congressional races. Early voting totals around the state hint that that’s already happening. Early voting has shattered records nearly everywhere.
It’s not all good news for Gov. Perry. His right direction/wrong direction is a soft 45-42 and his personal favorable/unfavorable is 42-38. That’s a little too close for comfort. But the right/wrong track for President Obama is devastating: Just 32% of Texans believe the country is headed in the right direction under this president, while 62% believe it’s headed in the wrong direction. His personal fav/unfav is 32-57, putting Obama 25 points under water in Texas.
There’s more, and it’s all bad news for Democrats. Question 3j asks: “And do you favor or oppose requiring every American to buy or obtain health insurance?” That’s the individual mandate that’s currently being contested by, among others, Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbott in court. The results: 60% oppose, 33% favor, 7% undecided.
Question 5a: “And which of the following groups do you feel is most to blame for the rising cost of health care in Texas?” Survey says, it’s the federal government, at 27%, with insurance companies, lawyers and big pharma rounding out the top four. The Democrats have been trying to pin that on Gov. Perry for years. It hasn’t worked, at all.
Another horrible question for the Democrats: “And do you agree or disagree that there are too many lawsuits filed in Texas?” Agree: 75%. And 72% agree that lawsuit abuse in Texas is costing jobs and hurting the economy. The Democrats are the trial lawyer party. Their late benefactor, Fred Baron, was a trial lawyer. Their chairman, Boyd Richie, is a trial lawyer. Their largest benefactor of the year, to the tune of a reported $5 million this cycle alone, is Steve Mostyn — trial lawyer. Bill White — trial lawyer. The Texas Democrats need a change of scenery if they hope to win any time soon. It wouldn’t kill them to listen to Greg Windham, rather than reflexively throwing him under the bus.
Here’s where things get a little more predictive of what may happen in the 2011 session of the Texas legislature. It’s actually the first question in the survey: “Which of the following do you feel is the single most important problem facing Texas today?”
Thirty-two percent say illegal immigration, 25% jobs and the economy, 14% quality of public schools, and 8% health care costs. The Democrats have spent the past year harping on the issue that comes in a weak fourth in Texas, and have done precisely nothing effective on the state’s top two issues. The Democrats aren’t even in the ballgame on those two issues.
Also predictive of the 82nd Session of the lege: A strong majority of 86% favor requiring photo ID to vote (the Democrats filibustered a bill in the 2009 session that would have made that the law) and a strong majority of 64% favors passing something similar to Arizona’s immigration reform. That’s pretty much unchanged ever since Arizona passed its law, so events like David Hartley’s murder on Falcon Lake haven’t moved the numbers.
On taxes, Texans are solidly for making the 2001 Bush tax cuts permanent: 62% support that, and 54% oppose raising taxes on those making $200,000 per year.
The last takeaway from this poll is also good news for Texas Republicans: All of the statewide candidates on the GOP ticket are poised to win, most by substantial margins. Bonus fun: Sarah Palin would thrash Barack Obama in Texas in a presidential head-to-head if it were held today, by two touchdowns.
None of this is a shock. But a little over a year ago, the Democratic National Committee held their fall meeting in Austin and declared their intention to turn Texas blue, or at least purple. Reality will set in soon, though, with this fact staring them in the face: Texas will be redder than ever.