Kay Bailey Hutchison has shown increased interest in running for reelection to the Senate in 2012 over the last few months. Whether Texas voters are interested in giving her another term is a different issue. Hutchison's approval numbers have plummeted since her failed Gubernatorial run, and she could be susceptible to a primary challenge from the right if she runs in 2012.
In February of 2009 PPP found Hutchison with a 58% approval rating, putting her among the most popular Senators and Governors in the country. Now Hutchison's approval is only 37% and she has negative overall numbers with 43% of voters disapproving of her. Only 35% of voters think she should seek another term in 2012 while 48% think it's time for her to hang it up. And if she does decide to run again only 32% of voters say they'll support her with 47% saying they'd support someone else.
Texas doesn't seem a likely candidate to elect a Democratic Senator any time soon so the greatest challenge for Hutchison in 2012 could be if she draws a serious primary challenger from the right flank of her party. Even among Republicans only 42% say they'd vote for Hutchison again to 41% who say they would rather vote for someone else, and it's clear that ideology is a big factor in that sentiment. 39% of GOP voters think Hutchison's too liberal to 46% who are comfortable with her ideologically. Hutchison may not be a moderate by normal standards, but she is by Texas Republican standards and that makes her vulnerable to a challenge from the right in 2012.
It's possible that the Tea Party fervor and anger on the right will have subsided some by the time 2012 rolls around. But if it hasn't Hutchison could be the next big target of the Tea Party activists' efforts to purge the GOP of those they perceive as moderates.
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