Our poll of the Texas Governor's race this week is another data point indicating possible backlash for Republican candidates this fall in the wake of the Arizona immigration law.
When we polled the race in Februrary Rick Perry led Bill White by 6 points. The race is tied now, and the movement since the previous poll has come completely with Hispanic voters. With white voters Perry led 54-35 then and leads 55-35 now. With black voters White led 81-12 then and leads 70-7 now. But with Hispanics Perry has gone from leading 53-41 in February to now trailing 55-21. And it's not that the sample of Hispanic voters we interviewed for this poll was somehow fundamentally different from the previous one- Barack Obama's approval with them on this poll was 49% compared to 47% on the previous Texas poll.
Hispanics moving toward Democratic candidates since the Arizona immigration bill was signed is becoming a trend in our polling of western states. Previous races where we polled before and after the signing of the immigration bill showed Rodney Glassman going from a 17 point deficit against John McCain with Hispanics to a 17 point lead, Michael Bennet going from a 12 point lead to a 21 point lead against Jane Norton with them, and Terry Goddard going from a 20 point lead to a 46 point lead with them.
There's no doubt the immigration bill is popular nationally. But if it causes Hispanics to change their voting behavior without a parallel shift among whites then it's going to end up playing to Democratic advantage this fall. It's much more important to look at how Hispanic voters in states with large Hispanic populations are reacting than it is to look at the national numbers, at least as it pertains to this fall's election.