The lastest polling results in the Texas gubernatorial race have been released and Republican incumbent Rick Perry continues to hold a broad lead in a crowded field.
Nearly two-thirds of Texas voters want one of Gov. Rick Perry’s challengers to beat him in the upcoming election, but none of his opponents has enough support right now to win, a newspaper poll shows.
The statewide poll conducted for The Dallas Morning News found that 38 percent of likely voters back Perry’s re-election in the Nov. 7 election.
It found 18 percent support independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, 15 percent support Democrat Chris Bell and 14 percent support independent Kinky Friedman.
“There is an anti-Perry vote, and clearly somebody should have been able to beat him. But the anti-Perry vote is split three ways,” said pollster Mickey Blum.
The poll had a 3.5 percent margin of error and showed 14 percent of respondents as undecided. Two key points should be kept in mind when looking at these results. First, a plurality is all that is needed to win so there is no hope for any in the field to force a run-off. Second, the poll did not include Libertarian candidate James Werner, quite probably knocking off some of the undecideds. Because of these two factors, Perry’s 20-point lead over his nearest rival is quite substantial with only 32 days remaining in the campaign.
All of the involved camps immediately tried to spin the results in their favor. First comes the following from the Governor’s campaign:
Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black said the governor will take the election with more than the 38 percent shown by the poll.
“Come Election Day, that number is going to be quite a bit higher because people are going to look at the record,” Black said.
Stating that the governor will take more than the poll shows is merely stating that he will pick up at least some of the undecideds. Barring a dramatic change in the campaign, that seems a very safe minimum bet.
The Bell camp also addressed the poll results.
Bell’s campaign spokeswoman, Heather Guntert, predicted Democrats will back the party’s nominee on Nov. 7. The poll shows he is “vulnerable,” she said.
That’s some pretty sloppy writing there, as I assume Ms. Guntert was referring to Perry as vulnerable. Unfortunately for Ms. Guntert’s cause, Bell’s poll results are probably not too far below his name recognition figures right now. In fact, should Bell not garner 20 percent of the final balloting, the Democrats run the risk of being classified as a minor party under Texas law and be forced to jump through more hoops to get their candidates on future ballots.
Strayhorn’s campaign chimed in on the poll.
Brad McClellan, Strayhorn’s campaign manager, said Strayhorn will win if Perry stays below 40 percent, adding: “People don’t want four more years of the same.”
Again, barring a dramatic development, the numbers don’t add up for this claim. Perry could actually lose ground and still win by a healthy margin.
Finally, a Friedman campaign official threw in the Kinky spin.
Friedman’s campaign said the poll doesn’t reflect Texans who don’t normally vote but will turn out to support Friedman.
“These polls don’t mean much to us, but if Kinky is polling at 14 percent among likely voters, we’re happy,” said spokeswoman Laura Stromberg.
Yes, Kinky will get out some that would not have otherwise voted; likewise, he will draw some from the established parties and possibly be particularly damaging to the Libertarians. That said, his is an entertaining but hopeless candidacy.
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