Perry leads; why I'm not posting much

A Hamilton Beattie poll of 700 likely general election TX voters. It's a Democratic polling firm.
Margin of error: +/- 3.7%
Party ID breakdown: 37%D, 46%R, 17% Other
GOP subsample: 430 GOP likely primary voters; margin of error +/- 4.7%.
Dem subsample: 430 Dem likely primary voters; margin of error +/- 4.7%.

GOP GOV Primary Matchup Dem GOV Primary Matchup
Perry 62% Sharp 32%
Strayhorn 25% Alvarado 13%
Undec/Oth 13% Bell 11%
Other/Undecided 44%
Generic General Matchup
Perry 42%
Generic Dem 38%
Undec/Oth 21%

Job Approval Perry Legislature
Positive 52% 36%
Negative 44% 59%

General Election "Informed Ballot":
Perry 45%
Sharp 41%
Undec/Oth 14%

The "Informed Ballot" bios:

Perry, the 55 year old GOP TX Gov, grew up on a family ranch outside of Abilene. Perry is the former Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Perry successfully worked with legislative leaders to limit lawsuit abuse, balance the state budget without new taxes, and create $9 billion dollars in new funding for Texas schools. If reelected, Perry will continue his fight to substantially cut property taxes, limit increases to local property tax appraisals, and reform our public schools.

Sharp, the 55 year old Dem candidate from Victoria thinks it is time for a change. As a two-term elected state Comptroller, Sharp's innovative proposals included the Lone Star Card that helped reduce welfare fraud and abuse, the Texas Tomorrow Fund to help middle class families save for their children's college, and he was responsible for stopping a state income tax. If elected, Sharp will set real priorities for the Legislature like standing up to big insurance companies to cut homeowner's rates, improving our schools, and restoring fiscal discipline to state government.

Points of note from the poll:

1. I'd say the poll results mesh pretty well with intuition. If Perry is getting these results from Democratic polling groups, he can't be upset.

2. The poll was paid for by AtlanGroup, LLC in Austin. I called Mark Harkrider*, a lobbyist of the AtlanGroup, and asked him about the poll. Based on what the numbers I'd seen (above), I thought it appeared to be a poll designed to encourage John Sharp to enter the race. Harkrider mentioned that the poll was the "first in a series" of polls on a series of current topics. He seemed surprised when I wanted to talk about the guv's race, as he claimed that that was only a small part of this poll. The main point of this first installment was to test attitudes towards VLTs.

He mentioned he was supporting Comptroller Strayhorn (whose poll numbers he thought had potential for "tremendous growth", and implied that he wasn't trying to encourage Sharp to join the race.

I should've had him email me a copy of the whole poll, but I forgot.

*a search of state and federal campaign reports revealed about 10 political donations, all to Democrats.

3. It looks like Perry has successfully shifted blame from himself to the Legislature. He's got a 52/44 (+8% differential), while the Legislature has a 36/59 (-23% differential).

4. Chris Bell is a decided underdog if John Sharp enters the race for the Democratic nomination. He's outperformed by Felix Alvarado -- a guy who hasn't really managed any newspaper coverage or raised any money (to my knowledge). Bell has had pretty good coverage around the state in his travels. To be beaten by a no-name school principal from Fort Worth isn't good.

5. Perry is beating Strayhorn by a large margin. That's really not a surprise. Perry hasn't given likely Republican primary voters a reason to vote against him. He's the incumbent, and the interest groups on the right

6. Rick Perry may be only slightly leading a "generic Democrat," but that's not a bad thing for Perry. You may recall that George W. Bush was losing in nearly every poll against a "generic Democrat" during the 2004 Democratic presidential primary. That's not hard to do. "Generic Democrats" don't have inconsistent statements, verbal gaffes, changing positions, and the like.

During 2003 and 2004, I consistently said that Bush would be re-elected by a close margin, but that he was an large favorite to win re-election, even when polls showed that a "generic Democrat" had a decent lead on Bush. Most people who had any clue about politics understood this (in case I was too subtle, I'm implying that John Zogby should stick to polling and not prognosticating).

7. The fact that Rick Perry is beating John Sharp on the "informed ballot" test is mild support for what I'm talking about on the preceding point.

8. And finally the last point: this race is Rick Perry's to lose. I see few circumstances under which Perry is not re-elected. He's a huge favorite against Strayhorn right now, and it's hard to see Texas electing a Democratic governor. Out of the 29 statewide offices (I think that's right; I'm not going to look it up and verify it), Texas last elected a Democrat in 1994 (Dan Morales served until 1998).

Lots of folks seem to underestimate Rick Perry, but I think it's a mistake. He's a very disciplined campaigner, and he's good at exploiting his opponent's weaknesses. Yes, there are lots of people around the state who are disgruntled with Perry and Perry has some weaknesses. But at the end of the day, he doesn't win by being liked. Perry wins races because more people like him a bit better than his opponent.

This all explains why posting has been slow of late. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's decision not to run made this race significantly less exciting for me. Not that I don't expect Strayhorn to make the race interesting, I just don't think her chances of winning are that high. Even if she can make it close, the law of diminishing returns definitely kicks in.

The wild card right now is Kinky Friedman. If Kinky can actually establish himself as a serious candidate with a serious platform, then the preceding analysis is moot. I'll also neglect this blog less.

UPDATE: There's this from TexasWeekly:

The AtlanGroup shows up in Texas Ethics Commission records giving $50,000 to the Texas Democratic Party earlier this year, $50,000 to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and $200,000 to Strayhorn. David and Martha Alameel, who show up as principals of AtlanGroup in some reports, have contributed amounts ranging from $100 to $50,000 to 21 politicians and organizations since 2000. According to TEC filings, those includes totals of $100,000 to Sharp, $75,000 to Dewhurst, $50,000 to Strayhorn, $40,000 to Attorney General Greg Abbott, $30,000 to Democrat Kirk Watson, who ran against Abbott in 2002. They gave $50,000 to the Texas Democratic Party. The couple's contributions most of them in his name totaled $479,800 from 2000 to 2004

Posted by Evan @ 09/16/05 08:03 PM


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What about Kinky? How does he affect the race?

Posted by James @ 09/21/05 06:28 PM

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