The Rick people denigrate that poll constantly, saying it is an out of state poll, that the pollster that conducted it was a pro-choice pollster for NARAL and other groups, so of course they would rig it to support Kay. Blah blah blah.
My take is that no poll is really that meaningful just yet. In November or December, polling will become a lot more relevant. By January of February, the numbers will settle in and become fairly accurate.
That being said, there is a new poll from the University of Texas at Austin showing the race extremely close (link). Excerpt follows:
In a match-up of heavy-weights, we find that U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison leads Governor Rick Perry 36% to 30% among respondents who say they plan to vote in the 2010 Republican Primary election. The six-point margin, combined with a the 34% who say they have not yet made up their minds, indicates that Hutchison may not have the overwhelming lead many have assumed. Hutchison's margin is derived largely from her support among women and independent Republicans, while Perry is either even or holds a small lead among men and strong conservatives.With a 5.7% margin of error, the race is basically a tie at the point. Or a double-digit lead, whichever you prefer. I happen to think that Kay is up, but not by 25 or even 15. Probably by between 5-10%.
According to the UT poll, Kay has a lead among women and "independent Republicans," whatever that means. Rick has a lead among men and strong conservatives. Will this primary generate enough heat to bring "independent Republicans" to the polls, or will it be driven by conservative voters?
Texas GOP primary voters are a funny bunch. They are usually far more conservative and far more religious than the overall pool of Texas Republicans, and WAY more conservative than the state as a whole. Will this extremely conservative crowd go with Kay? Or will Kay's strategy of expanding the pot of voters to include people who typically don't vote in primaries pay off?
Rick appeals to social conservatives, other than his HPV vaccine goof. Some people take that to mean that Kay must appeal to fiscal conservatives. If last week was any indication, Rick is putting a full court press on for those fiscal conservatives as well, while Kay may be taking them for granted. Rumor has it that Rick spoke to an exclusive gathering of the Club for Growth in Florida this month about helping him out, although I doubt it because they don't really seem to get involved in state primaries, just federal.
Kay's people tell me that they don't think she can win the evangelical Christian voters, but they do think they can win Catholics and other growing groups that make up what they call the "new Texas." Kay's people may have a point. Over the years, Texas has gotten more Catholic but less Christian (link). Excerpt follows:
Texas stats are interesting: In the 1990 ARIS poll, 23 percent of Texans said they were Catholic. Last year, that number had jumped to 32 percent. In 1990, 68 percent of Texans said they were some kind of Christian other than Catholic. Last year, that figure had dropped to only 48 percent. The "none" answers had jumped from 5 percent in 1990 to 12 percent last year.Still, social conservatives make up a big part of the Republican primary, and I am not sure either candidate can win without them.
Gallup put out some numbers out recently showing Texas as a very religious state (link). It is not as religious as the rest of the South, but it is close. See the map below for details.
To reiterate, polls this far out are probably not that accurate, but my gut is that this poll is a lot more accurate than the out of state poll from a month or two ago that the Kay people love to talk about and the Rick people loathe to talk about.