A discussion of approval ratings and their application

Paul Burka writes:

#1 Kay Bailey Hutchison 56% favorable, 25% unfavorable (+31%)
#2 John Cornyn: 43% favorable, 21% unfavorable (+22%)
#3 Bill White 41% favorable, 32% unfavorable (+9%)
#4 Rick Perry 42% favorable, 38% unfavorable (+4%)

Hutchison has regained most of what she lost in her primary race against Perry, which she began with a favorability in the 60s. As for Perry, this tells you that the voters don't really like him; he barely has a net positive favorability rating. Remember, this poll was taken right before an election during which he spent bazillions of dollars, and the best he could do was +4%.

The biggest news is Hutchison's recovery half a year after getting drubbed by Perry. Perhaps she is a viable candidate for reelection in 2012 after all.

1. Hutchison's favorability rating. I'm nonplussed that Paul thinks this is news. I consider it expected.

Hutchison is the state's most popular politician, in that she is the Republican candidate who has the maximum votegetting potential in a statewide race versus a generic Democrat. Put another way, she has the broadest base of possible support, moreso even than George W Bush, who is more polarizing after 8 years as president.

On the other hand, her base is pretty shallow. Consider all the people who voted for Perry: when you ask them now, 10 months after the primary, if they have a favorable rating of Hutchison, what will they say? The vast majority of them will say favorable, despite 70% of those folks having chosen another candidate in the most recent electoral test of her popularity.

2. Is Hutchison a viable candidate? To answer Burka's question, I think you'd need to define the word viable. Any incumbent senator is a viable candidate, in my opinion. Does KBH have more than a 50% chance at winning? Probably not. If Texas didn't have runoffs, I think you could easily make her a favorite. But Texas does have runoffs and it certainly appears that several 'viable' (there's that word again) candidates will run against her if she runs. Can she avoid a runoff? Unlikely. Can she win a runoff? Not impossible, but not something I'd even consider betting on at 50/50 odds.

3. Perry's approval ratings. Between KBH and Bill White, about $50 million dollars has been spent in the last 12 months attacking Rick Perry, so it's hardly shocking that he has pretty high unfavorables...especially after 10 years as governor.

But that's also part of the natural cyclical tides of Texas politics. Perry's fav/unfavs ratio will wax in Perry's favor after the legislature goes out of session and before campaign season. Then the fav/unfavs will wane as campaign season starts, maybe recover a little afterwards into the start of the legislative session, only to fall again when the tough decisions have to be made by the Lege.

Posted by Evan @ 12/21/10 05:10 AM


Previous Entry | Home | Next Entry


No comments yet

Add Comments

No flames or impolite behavior. HTML will be stripped. URLs will be transformed into hyperlinks.