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SurveyUSA: Little Change in Governor’s Race

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Perry Going Nowhere at 35%, But That May Be Just Enough To Win Re-Election. That’s SurveyUSA’s headline for its first poll of the governor’s race since June 26. The methodology involved interviews of 1,000 adults over a three-day period (September 16-18), 863 of whom were registered voters. From that pool, 536 likely voters were identified for the poll.

The results:

Perry 35%
Bell 23%
Friedman 23%
Strayhorn 15%

Anyone looking at these numbers would have to conclude that Strayhorn is dead. The polling occurred after her TV spots had been running for more than a week, and they didn’t change a thing. Perry’s TV spot didn’t give him a boost either, but he didn’t need one. Strayhorn has the money to make a race of it, but not the message or the constituency. She is going to have to go negative, and while that may cause Perry’s numbers to drop, it won’t help her. The big question in the post-mortem of this election is going to be whether the trial lawyers who threw their money behind Strayhorn early would have done better to support Bell. The answer is pretty obvious.

SurveyUSA broke down the results into ten categories: gender, age, race, party, education level, ideology, income, Bush job approval, region, and type of community (urban, surburban, rural). Some of these numbers help explain what is going on.

The most important number on any of the charts is that Perry has 33% of the Hispanic vote. (Bell has 26%.) The Hispanic vote is about 1/6 of the electorate, maybe a little more, which means that Perry’s share is worth 5 to 6 points overall. Switch half of those votes to Bell and Perry’s lead would be down to 7 points. Perry’s success among Hispanic voters is no accident. He has earned it, with appointments (Victor Carrillo to the Railroad Commision) and endorsements (eleven Valley mayors) and visits to South Texas. And the Hispanic community continues to diversify, with upwardly mobile voters who are increasingly likely to vote Republican.

Another key number is that Bell has 55% of the Democratic vote. Strayhorn strategists believed that Bell would not be able to hold the Democratic base vote together, since he has no money for television, and that their candidate would get at least a third of the Democrats. Forget it. Strayhorn’s share, according to the poll, is 20%. She has only 14% of the Republican vote after leading the Republican ticket in 2002. And their hope to get the lion’s share of the female vote came up empty too (19%). Although she is running as an independent, she has only 9% of the independent vote.

The shallowness of Perry’s support is evident from the lack of approval in his own party. He has only 56% of the Republicans. The problem for Bell, as I have hypothesized previously, is that even disillusioned Republicans won’t vote for Democrats, and the numbers bear this out. Bell gets only 3% of the Republican vote. Perry gets 7% of the Democrats. If you take that number, and Perry’s sizeable Hispanic vote, the obvious conclusion is that pro-Perry Hispanics have already left the Democratic party.

Friedman’s Achilles heel is that he does poorly among women voters (17%) and seniors (13%). His strength is among independents (39%, as much as Perry and Bell combined).It is astonishing that a Republican governor who has lost the support of 44% of his own party is going to win reelection. Better get used to it.

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