The latest Zogby/Wall Street Journal/Battleground States poll shows the governor’s race tightening significantly, to the point that Rick Perry is in dangerous territory. The numbers in parenthesis represent published reports about the recent poll conducted by Opinion Analysts, an Austin firm, for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association:

Perry (R) 30.7% (41%)
Bell (D) 25.3% (13%)
Friedman (I) 22.4% (13%)
Strayhorn (I) 11.1% (14%)
Werner (L) 2.6%

If Zogby’s numbers are to be believed–and I, for one, don’t believe them, for reasons that I will state below–Perry and Strayhorn are in real trouble. At 30%, Perry would be within reach of the Democratic base vote. At 11%, and running under a different married name than she did in 2002, when she led the Republican ticket, Strayhorn has only one chance: that $8 million worth of TV can buy her way back in the race, and it had better happen soon.

Zogby also shows a narrowing gap between U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Democratic challenger Barbara Ann Radnofsky:
Hutchison (R) 47.8%
Radnofsky (D) 36.8%
Jameson (L) 7.1%

Zogby claims a margin of error of +/- 2.9%, but these results are not even in the same galaxy as the August Rasmussen poll (500 likely voters), which had Hutchison at 61% and Radnofsky at 31%. I have written previously that I do not trust Zogby’s methodology, which does not incorporate random calls or screening for likely voters. Hard-core political junkies can go to the Web site for the poll and click on “Methodology” for a complete explanation. Here is an excerpt: “Zogby Interactive of Utica, N.Y. has assembled a database of individuals who have registered to take part in online polls through solicitations on the company’s Web site as well as other Web sites that span the political spectrum.” Zogby’s poll is probably an accurate reflection of the Internet community–but not of the state as a whole.

That said, I have been hearing from Republican sources for the last week or so that GOP numbers in Texas are “falling through the floor”–their words, not mine. The huge edge in party identification Republicans once enjoyed has all but disappeared, and there is concern that some down-ballot candidates–Elizabeth Ames Jones for Railroad Commissioner and Todd Staples for Agriculture Commissioner, for example–could find themselves in very close races. Ds and Rs alike are saying that Ds could pick up four to six seats in the state House of Representatives, which would be a monumental shift. I’m not endorsing that view, just reporting that it exists. Republicans still have a big edge in money and get-out-the-vote tactics. As Damon Runyon famously said, the race is not always to the swift, nor the victory to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.