Debra Medina is fading in the Texas Republican race for Governor, and it continues to look like the contest is headed for a runoff where Rick Perry will be a strong favorite over Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Perry leads with 40% to 31% for Hutchison and 20% for Medina. Compared to PPP's look at the race two weeks ago Perry has gained a point, Hutchison has gone up three, and Medina's standing has declined by four.
Unless Perry wins the remaining undecideds by an overwhelming margin and/or peels off more of Medina's support it looks like he won't get to the 50% needed for an outright victory next week. But he leads Hutchison 52-35 in a potential runoff thanks in large part to Medina's supporters, who say Perry is their second choice by a 52-24 margin.
It's been a rough couple of weeks for Medina's standing. Her favorability spread in the previous poll was 40/9 for a +31 net positive. Now she's at 36/30 for a net positive of just +6. A 25 point drop on your numbers in the span of just two weeks is pretty unusual.
Fair or not the issue of whether Medina is a 'truther'- someone who thinks the federal government was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks- seems to be hurting her. 21% of primary voters think she subscribes to that theory while another 29% are unsure. Among that half of the electorate Medina is getting just 7% with 51% going to Perry and 30% to Hutchison. Medina actually leads with the half that does not think she is a truther, with 33% to 32% for Hutchison and 29% for Perry.
Although it now appears Hutchison will safely avoid the embarrassment of a third place finish her weak standing with conservative voters continues to make it unlikely that she will fare well in a primary electorate dominated by them. She actually has a negative approval rating- 43/45 with them- and trails Perry 45-24. She has a dominant 51-26 lead with moderates, but they account for just a quarter of likely voters.
Hutchison's struggles are not necessarily a product of voters disliking her so much as their wishing she would just stay in the Senate. 37% say that's the office they would like her serving in compared to 31% who wish she was out of elected office and 24% who would like her as Governor.
As for Perry his 50/41 approval spread within the GOP primary electorate is pretty mediocre but barring some major change of events he should win nomination for another term. That will set up what will likely be his closest race for Governor yet against Houston Mayor Bill White, who's cruising to the Democratic nomination with a 59-12 lead over his main challenger.
Full results here