Despite a month which included several stumbles on the campaign trail, a new poll shows Republican Greg Abbott with a healthy 14 point edge over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for governor, in an early indication of how difficult it will be for Democrats to achieve their stated goal and 'turn Texas blue,' 1200 WOAI news reports.
"It is steep uphill for her to run for the governorship in Texas as a Democrat," prominent political analyst Cal Jillson of SMU told 1200 WOAI news.
Abbott took a pounding from the Davis campaign in the past month for everything from his associations with Ted Nugent, to a controversial conservative sociologist's contribution to his education plan, to controversy over a proposal to give standardized tests to four years old. But Jillson says none of it appears to be sticking to Abbott.
"Even though she is at the height of her national and statewide visibility, I don't think she wins the governor's race," Jillson said in a surprisingly bold prediction for an election which is still seven months away.
The pollster, Public Policy Polling, has been criticized by Republicans in the past as a 'propaganda machine for the Democratic National Committee, but Progress Texas, one of the many independent liberal groups which are helping the Democrats in Texas, blasted the poll for only using land line phones to contact voters, resulting in an older and more 'Republican friendly' sample.
There is very little for Progress Texas and other groups to like about this new poll. It also shows San Antonio State Senator Leticia Van de Putte trailing by even more than Davis trails Abbott, regardless of who the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor turns out to be. Van de Putte trails Dan Patrick by 16 percentage points, and trails David Dewhurst by 18.
"It looks like it's going to be an uphill battle for Democrats in Texas this year," PPP President Dean Debnam said.
The main reason for the problems facing Democrats can be found not in Texas, but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. President Obama has an embarrassingly low 36% approval rating in Texas, and that is rubbing off on all other Republicans.
One example of how toxic the Democratic Party brand has become in Texas---40% of Texans say they 'disapprove' of John Cornyn's performance as U.S. Senator, compared with only 31% who say they 'approve.' But when asked if they plan to vote for Cornyn or for his little known Democratic opponent David Alameel, whom 67% of voters admit they have never heard of, Cornyn beats Alameel by 17 points, 49% to 32%.
The rising Republican tide has even lifted Rick Perry's approval numbers. Fro the first time in ages, Perry has a positive approval rating in Texas, with 48% approving of the man dubbed by the late Molly Ivins as 'Governor Goodhair,' and 44% disapproving. Two years ago, in the wake of his spectacularly failed Presidential bid, only 39% of Texans approved of Perry, and 53% disapproved of the retiring governor.
There is very little room for Davis to grow in this poll. 47% of Texans say they have an 'unfavorable' opinion of Davis, with only 21% say they are 'not sure.' So even if every one of the 'not sures' decided to break for Davis, that would give her only a 54% to 47% edge over Abbott. In fact, more Texans say they are 'not sure' about Abbott than are 'not sure' about Davis. Davis's favorability rating is even worse than Obama's, with only 33% say they have a 'favorable' opinion of the Ft. Worth state senator.