Earlier in the day I mentioned the rumor that the Bell campaign had a poll showing their candidate just five points behind Perry (32%-27%). Not so, says Jason Stanford with the Bell campaign. He did state his belief that Perry’s ceiling has dropped to 35% of the vote. That’s what I would say if I were running Bell’s campaign–but perhaps not within a day of two poll results showing Perry at 36%. So what is the real story? According to a posting by the Web site Houtopia.com, it is this:

“Word is, the Dallas Morning News will report tomorrow on a statewide poll conducted by Brian (sic) Epstein (sic) for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The poll will show Rick Perry is in deep trouble — garnering just 32% support of those sampled — with Chris Bell nipping at his heels at 27%, Carole Strayhorn trailing with 20%, and Kinky Friedman cratering in single digits. This is huge news, folks.”

There’s no love lost between Hutchison and Perry, as everyone knows, but I can’t imagine that Hutchison would implant that dagger between Perry’s shoulder blades (as much as she might like to), or that Bryan Eppstein, who does almost all of his political work for Republicans, would release a poll that hurts Perry and possibly the entire GOP ticket. Perry has high negatives–60% of the people won’t vote for him–but that still leaves him with a potential 40% of the vote. The bottom line is this: The governor’s race is a ten-point race, NOT a five-point race, until proven otherwise.