Could the Republican primary for Governor in Texas end up in a runoff between Rick Perry...and Debra Medina? Medina is coming on strong and polls now at 24%, just four points behind Kay Bailey Hutchison's 28%. Perry continues to hold a double digit advantage at 39%.
Medina is clearly riding the wave of discontent with the Republican establishment. Among primary voters who disapprove of the job the GOP in Congress is doing she actually leads with 37% to 32% for Perry and 22% for Hutchison. The problem for Medina is those folks only account for a third of the electorate and among the majority who are happy with the Republicans in Washington she's in a distant third at 17% to 48% for Perry and 27% for Hutchison. There may not end up being enough discontented Republican voters for her to move into the top two but she is nevertheless exceeding expectations.
Hutchison's issues are twofold: voters trust Washington politicians even less than usual right now and she's simply not connecting with the conservative voters who dominate a GOP primary electorate. Asked whether they have more faith in Washington politicians or Austin politicians to solve Texas' problems 78% said the state level ones to just 3% picking the national level. And while Hutchison has a commanding 49-29 lead over Perry with moderate voters, she is in last place with conservatives. Perry leads the pack at 42% followed by Medina at 25% and Hutchison at 23%. 76% of likely primary voters are conservatives to only 20% who are moderates.
Medina supporters say their second choice is Perry by a 43-39 margin over Hutchison, suggesting that if Perry does win by ten points but still end up in a runoff Hutchison's prospects for gaining ground on him are not that strong.
Hutchison actually has better approval numbers than Perry, pulling a 51/28 spread to his 50/36. But with Medina in the race the anti-Perry vote is splitting almost evenly with 46% going to Hutchison and 43% going to Medina. And in a huge shift from when PPP polled this race last February Perry is leading Hutchison 61-15 among voters who like both of them. A year ago Hutchison led 49-33 with those voters. At this point they seem to be sending a message that they'd like for both Perry and Hutchison to stay right where they are.
It'll be interesting to see if Medina continues to gain over these final three weeks- even getting to a runoff would have to be seen as a pretty big victory for the Tea Party crowd.
On the Democratic side Bill White leads with 49% to 19% for Farouk Shami and a total of 8% for the other five candidates.
Full results here