Rick Perry has miserable approval numbers. Bill White, along with John Hickenlooper in Colorado, is one of the two strongest new Democratic candidates in the country this year. That would usually be the formula for a Democratic pick up but Texas is still a Republican state in a Republican year, and Perry holds a 48-42 lead over White with 8 weeks left to go until election day.
The race is confounding the major trends we're seeing in most contests across the country. White is winning independents 53-34. Republicans have the lead with them most everywhere else. White's winning 82% of Democrats while Perry's getting 77% of Republicans. Republican voters are more unified than Democrats most everywhere else. But there are a lot more GOP voters than Dems in Texas so Perry's still ahead anyway.
At 50% a majority of Texans disapprove of the job Perry's doing with only 39% giving him good marks. Democrats dislike him (85%) a whole lot more than Republicans like him (63%) and independents split against him by a 25/64 margin.
White meanwhile has some of the best favorability numbers of any candidate anywhere in the country this year. 44% of voters see him favorably to only 29% with a negative opinion. Democrats, at 79%, like him a lot more than Republicans like Perry. With 19% of Republicans holding a favorable opinion of him he has much more crossover popularity than Perry, who only 10% of Democrats approve of. And independents see him positively 47/26.
Given all of that White may be the poster child for the right candidate running in the wrong cycle. That said, he's certainly within striking range for a victory.
To get an idea of just how well White is doing compared to overall Democratic performance in the state we also polled the Lieutenant Governor's race. There Republican incumbent David Dewhurst leads Democratic challenger Linda Chavez-Thompson 54-34, perhaps giving an indication of how lopsided the Governor's race might be in this political climate if the GOP had someone stronger than Perry and the Democrats someone weaker than White.
This race still has the potential to be the brightest spot for Democrats on what's likely to be a dark election night. How does White win the race? The key for him at this point is the 21% of Republicans who disapprove of Perry. Right now White has a 52-27 lead with them. If he can get closer to 75% of the GOP voters who don't like Perry to go for him White could pull the upset.
Full results here