AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Rick Perry has the backing of 50 percent of registered voters and maintains a 10-point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White in the closing stretch of the 2010 campaign, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll released today.
Perry's lead reflects the overall support for Republicans in the Nov. 2 elections. All GOP nominees on the statewide ballot hold double-digit leads over Democratic opponents, as do all generic Republican candidates for Congress and state Legislature.
The poll of 800 Texans was conducted Oct 11-18. It has a margin of error of 3.46 percent.
"With the campaigns now in full swing, more Texans are paying attention to the election and making a decision about their votes," says James Henson, director of the university's Texas Politics Project, who oversees the poll. "The conditions favoring Gov. Perry's reelection effort -- the Republican advantage in party identification and a terrible national economic climate -- are really helping him, despite the evidence of relatively soft support for the governor."
Only 45 percent of respondents approve of the job Perry has done as governor over the past year -- well below the number of respondents who plan to vote for him but still far higher than President Barack Obama's 35 percent approval rating.
Fifty-three percent of respondents who plan to vote for Perry say they "very strongly support" him. White, the former mayor of Houston, has "very strong" support from 72 percent of his backers.
Overall, 40 percent of respondents say they will vote for White, 8 percent back Libertarian Kathie Glass and 2 percent support Green Party candidate Deb Shafto.
In September, The University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll showed Perry had 39 percent support and White had 33 percent.
"In the past few weeks, it has been increasingly difficult to see how White could get over the hump and win this race," says University of Texas at Austin Government Professor Daron Shaw, who also oversees the poll. "Now the window of opportunity for him appears to be closing fast. It will take a major game changer for Perry to lose."
The survey also shows that 32 percent of Texans consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement and that only 37 percent believe their own member of Congress should be re-elected.
This is the fifth in a series of online polls conducted jointly by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune. The results and methodology are available at the Texas Politics Project Web site this week. Additional results will be released throughout the week.