The nasty nature of the Republican primary in Texas has Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison's approval numbers down and Bill White within striking range for the general election.
Perry's approval is now just 33%, with 50% of voters in the state disapproving of him. Last February PPP found him at a 41/48 spread. Hutchison's fall has been even more pronounced. Her approval is now 40%, with 37% of voters giving her bad marks. She was at a 58/31 spread a year ago.
In some sense these approval numbers are artificially low- Hutchison is at just a 54% approval rating with Republicans and Perry is even lower at 51%. Generally politicians are at 70% on up within their parties but the spirited primary has partisans rating their candidate's opponent less favorably than they might once the nominee's picked and the party's back on the same page.
For now the disunity has likely Democratic nominee Bill White pulling closer. Hutchison leads White by seven points, 45-38, while Perry and Debra Medina hold advantages of six points- 48-42 and 44-38 respectively.
White and Medina, who haven't been the targets of negative campaigning in the same way as Perry and Hutchison, have much better favorability numbers than their better known opponents. White's at a 34/17 spread with 49% of voters having no opinion about him and Medina's at 32/13 with 55% ambivalent towards her.
The number of voters with no opinion about White might suggest room for him to grow in the general election but he already pretty much has Democratic voters locked up regardless of whether they know who he is. He'll have to make a fair amount of in roads with independents and Republicans to be successful this fall.
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.
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