UT poll: Hutchison 37, Perry 29; margin narrower still among GOP primary voters
Tue March 17, 2009 3:20 pm

The latest UT poll is good news for Perry, bad news for Hutchison. So much for her 25-point lead in earlier polls. A very large 34% is undecided.

In the interviews that I did for the February Texas Monthly cover story about the governor's race, Perry's strategists pointed out two problems that Hutchison would have. One was that she would have to choose between campaigning in Texas and casting votes in Washington. They speculated that she would have to cram her campaigning into three-day weekends. Meanwhile, Perry can cavort all over the state. The second problem is that she would have to cast some controversial votes that could be used against her in the campaign. There is not much Hutchison can do about either of these problems unless she chooses to resign her seat.

Earlier polls had Hutchison with a huge lead among Republican primary voters. This poll surveyed 800 adults and thus is less predictive of the primary electorate. The margin is even closer among among respondents who say they plan to vote in the 2010 Republican Primary election: Hutchison 36%, Perry 30%. More than a third of these respondents (34%) are undecided. From the poll: "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.

The poll also has favorability and job approval ratings for Hutchison, Cornyn, and Perry. The favorability was determined by "thermometer" scoring: how favorably do respondents rate various figures on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being best. The results:

Hutchison 57
Cornyn 55
Perry 51

On job approval, 40% approved of the job Perry is doing, 34% disapproved--a slight improvement over Perry's 08 numbers, and reminiscent of his 39% showing in the 2006 election.

The large number of undecided respondents clouds the picture a little, but I see plenty of good news for Perry and little for Hutchison. Barely two hours ago I was posting about whether she has been active enough in this campaign. I think the numbers speak for themselves.

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