One of the biggest questions about the 2010 election cycle, which we still don't really know the answer to, is whether it will be solely an anti-Democratic year or more broadly an anti-incumbent year. Our newest Texas poll would seem to suggest voter fatigue toward long serving politicians in both parties- Republican Governor Rick Perry is now tied at 43 with Democratic challenger Bill White.
Texas would seem an unlikely candidate to provide Democrats their biggest win of the election cycle but the Governor's race there is a reminder that candidates matter. Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in the state like the job Perry is doing while 49% disapprove. Among independents the numbers are particularly bad- just 27% give Perry good marks to 55% who think he's doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.
In almost every race in the country right now Republican voters are more unified around their candidates than Democrats are and independents are leaning toward the GOP. Texas is running against the national grain on both of those counts- White is winning 15% of Republicans while Perry gets just 10% of Democrats and White also has a 42-36 advantage with independent voters.
Things look promising for White but Texas is still a conservative state where Barack Obama is exceedingly unpopular and that could end up proving to be too much for him to overcome. It may end up that White is the right candidate just running in the wrong cycle. But for now this looks like a surprisingly strong opportunity for Democrats and a race that could certainly end up as one of the most closely watched in the country.
Full results here