R.G. Ratcliffe, the Houston Chronicle's Austin Bureau Chief, reports that three new polls show Texas Governor Rick Perry on the threshold of re-election to a third term while support for former Houston Mayor Bill White remains stuck in the low forties and high thirties:
Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said White is stuck at the base Democratic vote because he has been unable to make a policy or message issue stick to Perry as a negative.A survey conducted for the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News and three other Texas newspapers in mid September showed Perry leading with 46 percent to White's 39 percent.
"At this point, I don't see anything White can do," Jones said.
University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan said it is a tough year for any Democrat to defeat a Republican incumbent like Perry. He said White has run too many "flags up the flagpole" without having an over-arching message on why voters need to boot Perry out of office.
"The trend is in the wrong direction for White," Buchanan said. "The opportunity clock is ticking and time is running out."
Two of the polls have Perry with 50 percent or more support of the likely voters, while the third poll has him at 48 percent support but with victory within the survey's margin of error.
White had 43 percent support in two of the surveys and 36 percent in the third.
The worst news for White was that none of the polls had enough undecided voters for him to reach a majority without a major change in the election's dynamics.
A plurality victory?
To win, White will have to take voters away from Perry or hope that third party candidates Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto draw enough votes to make a plurality victory possible.
Texas Lyceum/University of Texas, Sept. 22-30: Perry, 48 percent; White, 43 percent.
Belo/Public Strategies, Sept. 26-Oct.2: Perry 50 percent; White, 36 percent.
Rasmussen Reports, Oct. 6: Perry, 53 percent; White, 42 percent. Rasmussen moved the race from leans GOP to solid GOP.
Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Perry for re-election early in 2009, calling him the "true conservative" in the race for governor of the Lone Star state. Perry easily won the Texas Republican primary, claiming 51 percent of the vote to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's 30 percent and 19 percent for former Wharton County GOP Chairwoman Debra Medina.