Poll shows Perry leads White by 7 points in governor's race
Posted Saturday, Sep. 25, 2010
By Dave Montgomery
AUSTIN -- With just over five weeks before the Nov. 2 election, Gov. Rick Perry holds a seven-point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White and appears to be withstanding a strong anti-incumbency tide among voters, despite his 10 years in office as the state's longest-serving governor, according to a statewide poll by the Star-Telegram and other major Texas newspapers.
The survey also suggests that many voters agree with one of Perry's central campaign themes: that Texas has fared better than most states during the economic downturn and is heading in the right direction under his leadership. But at the same time, pollsters said, Perry has not reached a "safe" 50 percent threshold and therefore remains vulnerable to a potential surge by White.
Perry leads White by 46 percent to 39 percent, according to the poll, conducted Sept. 15-22 by Blum & Weprin Associates. Libertarian Kathie Glass, a Houston attorney who hopes to cut into Perry's conservative base, has 4 percent. Green Party candidate Deb Shafto, a retired Houston schoolteacher, has less than 1 percent.
Eight percent remain undecided, while 3 percent declined to give a preference.
In Fort Worth, one of the state's leading Republican strongholds, Perry holds a towering lead of 69.6 percent, with 17.8 percent for White.
White, a former three-term Houston mayor seeking to become the first Democratic governor in more than 15 years, has clearly broadened his appeal since entering the race in late 2009, nearly doubling his favorable rating among voters over the past seven months.
But up to a third of the voters say they still don't know enough about White to have an opinion, suggesting that he has a formidable challenge in the weeks ahead.
Short of majority
Mickey Blum, president of the New York-based polling firm, said Perry's lead is not insurmountable, adding that she is surprised the governor hasn't secured a majority of support during a campaign that also included a hard-fought Republican primary against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
But, if momentum continues to flow in Perry's direction, she said, "he certainly looks like he's headed for another term."
Four years ago, Perry won re-election with 39 percent of the vote in a race that also drew two independent candidates. In Texas, a plurality is enough to win the governor's race.
"We're pleased where we are," said Mark Miner, Perry's chief campaign spokesman. "The people of Texas want a leader. Whether they agree with the governor 100 percent of the time or not, the governor stands up for what he believes in and what is in the best interest of Texas."
But White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said Perry is "holding on for dear life" as White continues to attack the incumbent as an entrenched politician whose departure is long overdue. "People are ready for an alternative, and that's why you see a majority of Texans do not support Rick Perry," she said. "We've seen momentum growing and growing behind Bill White since he announced his run for governor."
Nevertheless, the survey suggests that Perry, seeking an unprecedented third four-year term, has been relatively unscathed by the longevity issue despite rivals' attempts to use it against him.
Hutchison and White have both advocated gubernatorial term limits, contending that Perry's decade in office has enabled him to become too cozy with lobbyists and corporate interests and has made him inattentive to the needs of ordinary Texans.
"Even in an anti-incumbent year, the governor's 10 years in office do not appear to be hurting him," pollsters said in a summary of their findings.
In the last survey that the firm conducted, in February, 75 percent of voters favored gubernatorial term limits.
But 51 percent of likely voters now say that Perry's 10 years in office will not affect their vote, while 15 percent say they will be more likely to vote for him because of his time in office. Thirty-three percent said they are less likely to vote for Perry because of the issue.
A rebellious mood is roiling this year's midterm elections as Tea Party activists and other angry voters blame incumbents in both parties for big spending and burdensome government policies. Perry, however, may be at least partially deflecting the backlash from voters through his frequent attacks on Washington and his call for low taxes and less government, themes that parallel those espoused by the Tea Party movement.
The poll also suggests that many voters agree with Perry's oft-repeated message that Texas has outpaced other states and is doing comparatively well in the economic downturn, even though it has clearly had an effect by sharply cutting into state revenue and forcing many companies to downsize.
"Texas voters approve of the governor and give him credit for the state moving in the right direction," the pollsters said. Forty-nine percent of likely voters believe that Texas is heading in the right direction, while 36 percent say it isn't.
Thirty-five percent of likely voters believe that Perry has had a "great deal" of impact on the economy, while 43 percent say he has had at least "some" impact, although the survey does not poll voters on whether they think the impact is positive or negative.
Forty-four percent of registered voters approve of Perry's performance in office, a two-point drop since February, compared with 38 percent who disapprove. Among likely voters, 48 percent approve and 38 percent disapprove.
Still unknown to many
White has become "much better known to Texans" since the February survey and now has a 40 percent favorable rating among registered voters, compared with 23 percent seven months ago, the pollsters said.
Thirty-three percent of registered voters say they don't know enough about the Democratic nominee to form an opinion. Among those likely to vote, 45 percent have a favorable view, 24 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 26 say they need to know more before making up their minds.
Perry leads among Anglos, Republicans, those over 30 and those with incomes over $30,000, the pollsters said. White leads among those under 30, Latinos and African-Americans, Democrats and independents, and those with the lowest incomes.
With a hefty political bankroll and support from the Democratic establishment, White has been widely touted as the party's best hope of retaking the governor's office since Ann Richards was defeated in 1994 after one term.
But Blum said the political currents strongly favoring Republicans hurt White's chances.
Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting this year, she said, while many core Democratic voters -- including minorities and low-income voters -- are less likely to vote in midterm elections.
"White really has his work cut out for him because he has to get out the less-likely voters," Blum said.
'I'm really fed up'
Interviews with voters show predictable patterns -- as well as surprises and contradictions. Some credit Perry for helping the state's economy but display contempt for longtime incumbents and support term limits.
White's supporters say it's time to give Perry the boot and tout the Democratic nominee as a needed fresh face and successful Houston mayor. Those lining up behind Perry embrace the Republican portrayal of White as a liberal trial lawyer out of step with the Texas electorate. Others say they're not particularly enamored with either politician.
Walter Livingston, a 69-year-old retired government weatherman in Burleson, says he's inclined to support White to get rid of Perry.
"It's not so much that I like White but [that] I dislike Rick Perry," he said. Why? "I'm really fed up with incumbents," he said.
Brian Bedwell, a 44-year-old caregiver who lives with his male partner in Saginaw, says he believes that Perry has done a good job of bolstering the state and economy and should be re-elected despite opposing same-sex marriage.
Perry's view on gay marriage "is troubling for me," Bedwell says, "but since Perry has been in office, our state has been doing fine compared to other states. We're not doing absolutely grand, but as a financial steward, he's been doing good by us. If I just want to sit there and dance on my one issue of being gay, then why am I involved in politics at all? We must focus on the greater, greater good for the country."
Russell Brown, 50, of Fate in Rockwall County is a Republican who supports White and says Perry has been in office too long.
"I went to Bill White's website and went to some of his functions and got to know him a little bit. He really does believe in education. Gov. Perry says something and gives it lip service, but White puts his money where his mouth is," the retired general contractor said.
Ray White, a 64-year-old minister at the Union Baptist Church in Springtown in Parker County -- and no relation to Bill White -- said he plans to support Perry.
"It's the lesser of two evils," Ray White said with a laugh. "It's not so much a vote for him as it is a vote against my namesake. From what I've read on Bill White, especially the way he's run his campaign, I just couldn't vote for him."
Staff writers Anna M. Tinsley and Aman Batheja contributed to this report. The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News also participated in the poll.
Dave Montgomery is the Star-Telegram's Austin bureau chief. 512-476-4294
One thing that is bullshit is this: The poll also suggests that many voters agree with Perry's oft-repeated message that Texas has outpaced other states and is doing comparatively well in the economic downturn, even though it has clearly had an effect by sharply cutting into state revenue and forcing many companies to downsize.
Texas is headed for a $15 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT and it is because of Perry. We already facing massive cuts in education, support services, civil projects, etc. Anyone who thinks Perry is a good steward is an idiot who is not paying attention to what will take place in two years if we continue to have Perry as our governor.
Texas Democrats up for Election this November who will change things:
Bill White (Governor): Act Blue page Campaign Website YouTube flickr Facebook Twitter
Linda Chavez-Thompson (Lt. Governor): Act Blue page Campaign Website Facebook Twitter
Barbara Ann Radnofsky (Attorney General): Act Blue page Campaign Website YouTube flickr Facebook Twitter
Robert Pruett (Ron Paul's seat): Act Blue page Campaign Website Facebook
Linda Yanez (13th Court of Appeals): Campaign Website
http://www.actblue.com/directory/TX/all/state-exec-all two of them are for the Texas State Board of Education (SBE)
Rebecca Bell-Metereau (State Board of Education District 5): Act Blue page Campaign Website Facebook flickr Twitter RSS Feed
Judy Jennings (State Board of Education District 10): Act Blue page Campaign Website Facebook Twitter
Want to keep bitching about Texas' problems or do you want to help us change things?
We don't need lip service about how we should secede from the union. We need support from our liberal brothers and sisters to kick the religious conservatives out of the fucking office. The conservatives have been entrenched for over two decades and we need your support to take back our state from their hands. So fucking knock off with the hatred and help us combat it.
You can help by donating to the Act Blue candidates I mention. Especially the SBE ones who want to fix things that the current Texas State Board of Education did this year with re-writing the textbooks.
Bill White is also your best bet. Want Gov Goodhair out of the office with his seceding talk? Then make sure that Billy boy can kick his ass. Or for 2012 or 2016 you can watch Rick Perry become the next President of the United States because he has made it quite clear that he wishes to emulate George W. Bush and move from two terms as Governor to President of the USA.
October 4, 2010 is the deadline to register to vote!!!!!
And the dates: http://www.votexas.org/when_to_vote.html