Incumbent Rick Perry holds a 10-point lead over Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in the race for this year’s Republican gubernatorial nomination in Texas.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely Republican Primary voters in Texas finds Perry leading Hutchison 43% to 33%. Debra Medina, a tea party activist, is a distant third with 12% of the vote, and another 11% are undecided.
Perry jumped out to an 11-point lead – 46% to 35% - in November after Hutchison’s tour of the state to announce her candidacy had turned the race into a toss-up just two months earlier. In mid-July, Perry led Hutchison by 10 points, 46% to 36%.
But Medina, the owner of a medical consulting firm, is the only candidate who is gaining ground, up from four percent (4%) of the GOP vote in November and three percent (3%) in September. Some political analysts have said Medina was the strongest performer in last Thursday night’s GOP gubernatorial debate, although most of the focus was on Perry, who is seeking an unprecedented third term as governor, and Hutchison, a member of the U.S. Senate for the past 16 years.
The candidates have another debate on January 29, although Medina will not be invited. Texas Republicans choose their nominee for governor in a March 2 primary.
Sixty-five percent (65%) of Texas Republican voters say Hutchison should remain in the Senate while running for governor, up five points from November. Twenty-two percent (22%) disagree and believe Hutchison should step down from the Senate. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.
Hutchison initially indicated a willingness to quit the Senate to run for governor but has never set a date for stepping down. In November, 57% of all voters in the state said Hutchison should stay in the Senate while running for her party’s gubernatorial nod.
Democrats are now feeling more hopeful about the governor's race with former Houston Mayor Bill White's decision to enter the race.
Perry leads Hutchison by 12 among male GOP voters and by seven among women Republicans. The incumbent is more popular among higher income voters.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of conservatives like Perry, while 51% of moderate Republicans and 61% of party liberals prefer Hutchison.
Both major candidates are well liked by Republicans in the state. Seventy-two percent (72%) have a favorable view of Perry, including 26% who view him very favorably. Twenty-six percent (26%) view the governor unfavorably.
Hutchison is seen favorably by 73%, with 23% who regard her very favorably, and unfavorably by 25%.
For Medina, favorables total 43%, including 12% who view her very favorably, and unfavorables add up to 29%. But while two percent or less have no opinion of Perry or Hutchison, 28% don’t know Medina well enough to venture even a soft favorable or unfavorable opinion of her.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Republicans in the Lone Star State disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.
But 68% approve of the job Perry is doing as governor. That figure includes 22% who strongly approve. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Texas Republicans don’t approve of Perry’s performance, with 11% who strongly disapprove. These numbers are basically unchanged from November.
The Hutchison campaign must be extremely disappointed. They felt they had won the debate. Most pundits who commented about the debate thought that Perry had done poorly. Yet, his eleven-point lead in November (46-35) dwindled by only one point. That’s two more months and who knows how much TV money down the drain for Hutchison, with only six weeks left in the campaign. Very little else has changed in the race. The favorable and unfavorable ratings of the two leading candidates are virtually identical.
Kay spent $2.2 more than Rick did in 2009 including far more in December and still fell dramatically in the polls...