The new survey of Texas by Public Policy Polling (D)
finds Republican Gov. Rick Perry with a narrow lead over the likely Democratic nominee, Houston Mayor Bill White, in a general election match-up -- at the same time as Texans disapprove of Perry's performance.
The numbers: Perry 48%, White 42%. Perry is facing a primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and conservative activist Debra Medina, in which Perry is currently in the lead. In the other general election scenarios, Hutchison leads White by 45%-38%, and Medina leads White by 44%-38%.
The interesting part, however, is that Perry's approval rating is at only 33%, to 50% disapproval, and yet he still leads White in the general election. The reason for this is that Perry's approval among Republicans is only 51%-28%, but they pick him over White by 83%-10%. The Republican primary is serving to drive down both Perry's and Hutchison's favorables among their party base, as they compete for votes, but the base is sticking with the eventual party nominee (whoever it might be) for now.
PPP communications director Tom Jensen sums it up:
Hutchison's supporters, assuming she does not win the nomination, may be the swing group this fall. They don't like Perry- and that's why his approval numbers are so bad right now- but do they dislike him so much they'd vote for a Democrat over him in the fall? Right now the answer is no. Republicans who like Hutchison and dislike Perry still say they'll vote for Perry by a 66-28 margin over White. White will need to win over a lot more of those folks once the final match up is set.