This is the text of an e-mail I received from the Perry camp about the attacks the Perry campaign will use against Bill White:
“Bill White as Mayor of Houston: supported gun control; opposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; made Houston a sanctuary city; left Houston with twice as much debt per capita as California; supports ObamaCare.”
I don’t think that the first three matter. These issues are aimed at the Republican base. Perry already has those voters. “ObamaCare” just means that Perry will try to nationalize the race by exploiting Obama’s unpopularity in Texas. But Houston’s fiscal condition is a serious matter. If White is vulnerable here, it will sink him.
The big news in the governor’s race last week was the decision by Washington political analyst Charlie Cook to change his evaluation of the race from “leans Republican” to “tossup.” This runs contrary to Rasmussen polls which showed Perry ahead by 48-39 in February and by 49-43 and 47-41 in March. The most favorable poll for White is a Research 2000 survey that showed him down by 46-42.
I do not think that this race is a tossup, for these two reasons:
1. Republicans continue to enjoy an advantage in party identification of 6 to 8 points. (Perry’s pollster, Mike Baselice, currently puts the number at 7.)
2. Obama’s numbers are worse in Texas than just about anywhere. Here is the Chronicle’s story on a recent Public Policy Polling Survey:
President Obama’s approval ratings continue to slip nationally. But in Texas — at least among independent swing voters — he’s fallen off the cliff.
A new poll of Lone Star State voters found that just one in three Texans — and only 19 percent of independents — are satisfied with what is happening at the White House. That’s way below the 46 percent approval rating Obama receives nationally among independents, according to the latest Gallup poll.
“Democrats are having trouble everywhere right now, but the numbers in Texas are particularly eye-popping,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “It’s the first place we’ve polled where the President’s approval with independents is under 20 percent.”
Obama’s generally good ratings among women do not carry over to Texas, either. While the latest Gallup poll shows a 9 percentage point gender gap between how women and men approve of President Obama, there is none in Texas. The survey of 1,200 Texas voters conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 33 percent of both men and women approve of the president.
The president also is having trouble with Latino voters. Just 47 percent of Texas Hispanics give Obama a favorable rating, with an identical number disapproving of his performance. That’s far below the president’s numbers with other key Democratic constituencies, including liberals and African Americans.
The political climate in this state is not favorable to Democrats right now. What is going to change between now and November? Obama’s two biggest policy initiatives, health care and climate change, are anathema to Texas. That isn’t going to change. The share of the anti-Obama sentiment that is based on racism (and I think it is a lot) isn’t going to change.
The only good news that I can find for White is that his favorability numbers are better than Perry’s:
White 54% favorable, 34% unfavorable
Perry 54% favorable, 46% unfavorable
How to account for Charlie Cook’s decision? National Democrats have done a good job of spinning the myth that Democrats are resurgent in Texas. In fact, the D’s success has been limited to one area, the Texas House of Representatives. They did gain one seat in the state Senate. I’m not saying this because I don’t like Democrats. I think it’s important for Texas to become a competitive two-party state. It’s just not happening. The surest indicator is the behavior of Democratic wannabees. If they thought Democrats had a chance to win, they would be running for Congress or for statewide offices. The party tried to get legislators to run for statewide offices. None did. Q.E.D.