Poll: Hutchison In Tight Race For Second Place — And A Runoff Slot — In TX-GOV Republican Primary

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The new survey of the Texas gubernatorial race by Public Policy Polling (D) has some bad news for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. Hutchison is now just barely holding on to second place, and could be overtaken for a spot in the primary runoff by businesswoman and conservative activist Debra Medina.

The numbers: Perry 39%, Hutchison 28%, Medina 24%, with a ±4.8% margin of error. If no candidate gets over 50% of the vote in the primary on March 2, a runoff will be held on April 13. Hutchison has previously discussed this possibility — but this poll suggests that there’s a chance that she has to work hard to get into the runoff itself.

From the pollster’s analysis: “Perry is at 39% to 28% for Kay Bailey Hutchison and 24% for Medina. There are major splits within the race along ideological lines. Perry is at 42% with conservatives, and Medina is now outpolling Hutchison with them by a 25-23 margin. Hutchison cleans up with moderates, leading Perry 49-29, but unfortunately for her prospects they account for only 20% of GOP primary voters.”Hutchison’s big problem right now is her very weak showing among self-described conservatives, and a lack of enough moderates. Among the 76% of the likely primary electorate who describe themselves as conservatives, Perry leads with 42%, Medina has 25%, and Hutchison is third with 23%. Among the 20% who call themselves moderates, Hutchison leads with 49%, Perry has 29%, and Medina 14%.

Perry would be heavily favored in a runoff against Hutchison, as he is the second choice of Medina-voters by a close 43%-39% margin, and starts out with a lead. So what would happen if Medina were to upset Hutchison, and the runoff were then between Perry and Medina?

“I think Perry would have a strong advantage. Medina is relying on the anti-establishment vote and that will only go so far,” PPP communications director Tom Jensen tells TPMDC. “Plus Hutchison is the ‘moderate’ in the race, relatively speaking, so it’s hard to see her folks going for the most right wing candidate. The only way I could see that going differently is if there’s so much bad blood between Perry and Hutchison by the end of the race that she tells her supporters to vote for Medina. But that seems pretty unlikely.”

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