Texas voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the state's Republican leaders and are open to the idea of electing a Democrat as governor in the next election, according to a new survey by an established GOP pollster.Now this hardly means we can guarantee future Democratic victory when you get down into specific races and specific candidates, but there's clearly signs of opportunity:
The survey, conducted by David Hill, raises questions about whether the Republican Party might be in trouble after a decade of political dominance in Texas.
"The poll results challenge the conventional wisdom that Texas is a solidly red state," said Mr. Hill. "This shows that the Republican Party's image, even among Anglos and conservatives and self-professed Republicans, is often not what we would like it to be."
Texas voters don't think the GOP is delivering government that is low-cost, in-touch or devoted to the common good, the poll shows.
Mr. Hill said he found that perceptions of Republicans as arrogant, corrupt, angry and unwelcoming jeopardize the party's dominance.
•When asked if they were likely to vote for Republicans or Democrats for governor or the Legislature in the next election, without a specific name attached, 45 percent said Democrats and 31 percent said Republican.2010 is going to be interesting for sure. We have a governor's race that is about to have a bruising primary battle between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Gov. Perry would be easier to beat (though by no means would his defeat be guaranteed, especially since Democrats currently lack any top-tier candidates).
•Fewer than half (45 percent) of voters say they approve of the job Texans are doing in state government. When asked whether they think Republican elected officials in the state have done well enough to deserve re-election, only 32 percent of voters said yes, while 54 percent were open to giving Democrats a chance in office.
•The conservative GOP base – 21 percent of the overall electorate – is significantly concerned with the issues of illegal immigration and protecting traditional values. But Mr. Hill found that the party's potential for growth lies in focusing more on pocketbook issues, including property-tax cuts and reductions in state spending.
•Voters overwhelmingly cite dismay with President George W. Bush as a factor in the GOP's image problem but also blame state leaders for failing to connect with younger voters and Hispanics.
Hutchison's expected resignation from the Senate will set off a special election (for the remainder of her term until 2012) for which Houston mayor Bill White and former state comptroller John Sharp (the last Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas) are already running. But having two Democrats run will be bad in what would be a "jungle primary" (one in which any number of Democrats and Republican can run at the same time) election since it'd decrease the chance of either getting 50% and winning outright or even worse they could both fail to make it into a runoff.
State Sen. Royce West is considering a run for Attorney General, and a former aide I talked to the other night told me he thought he'd get in. Houston Attorney and 2006 candidate for U.S. Senate Barbara Radnofsky is also in the race.
Perhaps the most important area where Democrats need to look for victory is in the state house. If Democrats can take back the majority, they'd be in charge of redistricting after the census is completed. We need to undo the damage done by the partisan gerrymandering under Craddick.
The DCCC is also targeting Rep. Mike McCaul in the 10th Congressional district. In fact, McCaul may run for Texas AG (should Greg Abbott run for something else, such as Sen. Hutchison's seat) as a graceful exit.
So yeah, it definitely looks like there's an exciting election season to look forward to next year!
UPDATE: As I was saying, it's gonna be one hell of a fight for the state house next year.