Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is planning to step down to run for governor of her home state, but the latest Rasmussen reading shows her with an 11% deficit in the race against incumbent Rick Perry.
Perry’s share of the poll is 46% to Hutchison’s 35%. Tea-party activist Debra Medina picked up support from 4% and 14% are undecided.
Perry holds a clear lead among conservative Republicans; moderate and liberal Republicans are more likely to be in the Hutchison camp.
Rasmussen suggests that the key to predicting a primary race is turnout – the ground game of each candidate can have a significant impact on results if they are able to effectively identify their voters and get them to the polls. The pollster notes that it is far too early to get a sense of turnout – although at the moment the conservative portion of the electorate nationwide is the most active, perhaps giving the early advantage on that score to Perry.
However, it’s early enough that the numbers still have plenty of time to move. Rasmussen said the race was rated a toss-up as recently as two months ago. And Perry has suffered some damage on the fringe – the percentage of those strongly approving his governorship is down 5% to 20% and his strong disapproval number is up 3% to 12%.
And there’s this stunning fact – 75% of Republican voters like both candidates; and by a margin of 60% to 26%, they think Hutchison should hang onto her Senate seat during her contest with Perry.
RBR-TVBR observation: Texas Republicans clearly like both Hutchison and Perry – it is significant that a clear majority want her to hang onto her Senate seat while the governorship intramurals are in progress; so even if she loses to Perry she has the possibility of an elite political job to fall back on. Not many politicians are given this kind of escape hatch by the electorate – it will be interesting to see how she decides to use it.