Perry Opens Wide Lead and Medina Surges in Governor’s Race, Poll Finds

Feb. 12, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry has taken a commanding lead in the run-up to the March Republican primary, receiving support from 45 percent of likely voters, compared to 21 percent for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and 19 percent for GOP activist Debra Medina, according to a statewide poll conducted by The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Tribune.

The difference between Hutchison's and Medina's support is within the poll's 5.12 percentage point margin of error for the Republican sample, suggesting the two are in a statistical dead heat. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the March 2 primary, the top two vote getters will face each other in an April runoff.

"Debra Medina has clearly become a wild card in the Republican gubernatorial primary race. She caught everyone's attention in the debates and is riding a bit of a wave," says Government Professor Daron Shaw, one of the poll's organizers. "The analytical question is 'who does she hurt more?' On the one hand, she has been reasonably effective in critiquing Perry's stewardship and conservative credentials. On the other hand, she cuts into Hutchison's claim as the most plausible vehicle for change."

On the Democratic side, former Houston Mayor Bill White receives 50 percent support, compared to 11 percent for Houston businessman Farouk Shami, with the remaining voters undecided or supporting someone else. The margin of error for the Democratic primary is 6.02 percent.

"This poll crystallized the enthusiasm Democratic stalwarts have been showing for Bill White since his initial foray into statewide politics as a possible U.S. Senate candidate. Farouk Shami has added to the interest in the race, but his effort to catch White faces significant obstacles," says Jim Henson, director of the university's Texas Politics Project, which oversaw the polling along with the Tribune. "In general, the large number of uncommitted respondents confirms that the Democratic race has gotten off to a much slower start than the Republican race, even though there are more contested statewide slots."

The survey of 800 registered voters was conducted Feb. 1-7 after the second Republican gubernatorial debate featuring Perry, Hutchison and Medina. The lone debate between White and Shami was held after the survey was conducted. The overall survey results has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

The poll shows Perry continues to gain momentum. He had support from 38 percent of likely voters last June and 42 percent in October. Meanwhile, Hutchison's support rose from 26 percent in June to 30 percent in October before dropping in this month's survey.

Medina, who has tried to win support from Tea Party activists, was not included in the university's June poll and had 7 percent support in October.

Looking ahead to possible November matchups, the survey finds both Perry and Hutchison with nine-point leads over White, while Medina and White are tied at 36 percent. Independent voters say they would back Hutchison or Medina against White—but narrowly favor White against Perry.

The poll's other findings include:

  • Former Comptroller John Sharp leads a crowded field of candidates in a potential race to replace Hutchison in the Senate. Sharp, the only Democrat running, has 29 percent support. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is second at 15 percent.
  • On a generic two-party congressional ballot, 43 percent of respondents would support a Republican compared to 36 percent who would back a Democrat.
  • If a Tea Party candidate is added to the generic ballot, he or she would receive 16 percent support, compared to 36 percent for the Democrat and 21 percent for the Republican. Independent voters say they would back the Tea Party candidates in larger numbers (37 percent) than either the Democrat (11) or Republican (2).

This is the second in a series of online polls conducted jointly by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune, a non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization based in Austin.

For poll results and methodology, please go to the Texas Politics Project Web site.

For more information, contact: Gary Susswein, Office of the President, 512-471-4945; James Henson, 512-471-0090; Daron Shaw, 512-232-7275.

20 Comments to "Perry Opens Wide Lead and Medina Surges in Governor’s Race, Poll Finds"

1.  Jeff said on Feb. 12, 2010

I like the fact that Debra Medina is an ordinary citizen, not a slick, dishonest and corrupt career politician. I also like the fact that Debra Medina is focused on our individual rights and trying to reduce the growth of big government. I like her strong positions on private property rights and freedom to keep and bear firearms.

2.  Taika said on Feb. 12, 2010

It's greatly refreshing to see voters embracing the common sense constitutional conservative, Debra Medina! Her opponents are entrenched politicians who have spent MILLIONS more than she has. I can only imagine how well Medina would do if she had the funds to get her message out...but that may well happen when she goes into the runoff against Perry.

Looking forward to it!

3.  not fooled said on Feb. 12, 2010

Bwahahaha, a commanding lead--lol. His poll numbers are dropping! Go, Medina, go!

4.  Kitty said on Feb. 12, 2010

This survey was conducted Feb. 1-7, before Medina's disastrous interview on Glenn Beck's radio show yesterday.

5.  LittleBrother said on Feb. 12, 2010

Texas stands behind Medina. She wants to put an end to outrageous property taxes and supports gun rights. She is a farmer's daughter and a registered nurse. She knows the value of hard work and has roots in the real world unlike the career politicians she is running against who wouldn't know what a real day's work was if it rose up and bit them on the behind.

Texas stands behind Medina because Medina is standing up for us!

6.  Victor said on Feb. 12, 2010

Medina seems like the only honest candidate who has the right stances.

7.  TastyWheat said on Feb. 12, 2010

By now almost all of us have heard of the recent interview with gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina on the Glenn Beck radio show and we've all drawn our own opinions, some less rational than others. I think it's a sad day in American politics when a candidate can't reserve final judgment on an incomplete investigation.

The 9/11 Commission did indeed investigate the events of 9/11 and release a thorough report on that investigation, but the investigation and deliberations had about as much transparency as the health care debates. I'm sure we all read the report in its entirety so we must've caught the little snippet about the report being "without dissent." In simple terms that means anything that any commission member had any disagreement with did not make it into that report. I guess the American people shouldn't be bothered with minor factoids. These harsh rules, and others the public was never made aware of, were so egregious as to compel former commission member Senator Max Cleland to resign. His main opposition, however, was rooted in the White House's attempts to severely limit access to information, some of which was seen by certain members but never shared with the commission as a whole.

The greatest insult to the victims of 9/11 and their families is to accept a horribly flawed and closed-door investigation as the final word on the subject. I still support Debra Medina's bid for governor and no amount of slander, true or untrue, will ever make the other two candidates an attractive choice.

8.  Jack said on Feb. 12, 2010

They wouldn't be attacking her so strongly as they have been the last few days if she wasn't a real threat to Rick Perry.

9.  nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney said on Feb. 12, 2010

Better check that "Perry Opens Wide Lead" result you are selling.

We have our own polls, and we don't try to manipulate the electorate with them.

There will be exit polling to verify the tally.

10.  CC said on Feb. 12, 2010

Ron Paul / Debra Medina 2012 Presidency

11.  curmudgen said on Feb. 12, 2010

Too bad Medina does not seem to understand what powers the governor of Texas has. Half of what she is spewing to populist crowds are things she would not have the power to change, such as firearms ownership.

Add to that...she is a 9/11 "truther," and she is a loosing bet.

12.  Koko said on Feb. 12, 2010


Medina's done for after her mess-ups this week (which came AFTER the poll). Even Glenn Beck has dismissed her as incompetent.

13.  Sunshine said on Feb. 12, 2010

Debra Medina looked like a good fit for Texas until she accepted an interview with Glenn Beck. In a series of questions one of her answers prompted a question regarding 9-11. Seems she's a conspiracy theorist lock step with Van Jones. Texas might want to rethink her as a serious candidate.

14.  Patrick said on Feb. 12, 2010

A vote for Perry will be Harry. A vote for Medina will please ya! Vote for Perry if you love illegals. Vote for Perry if you like the Trans-Texas Corridor. Vote for Perry if you hate freedom. Medina Medina Medina. She will at least listen! Wake up, people. It is not business as usual. Don't vote the same clowns in. We know what their agenda is, and it will not benefit the average Joe. Make the change now! Medina for governor! Remember Perry does not get it!

15.  Patrick said on Feb. 12, 2010

Texas can't survive with Perry. Besides Perry should run for office in Mexico. Medina will support the average person and citizen! Go Medina!

16.  V. Rodolfo Gonzales said on Feb. 13, 2010

Ms. Medina speaks her mind. She is still better qualified than any of the candidates. Attacks on Debra are coming from all around her in many forms. The trap she was led into by Backward Beck smacks of cronyism and baiting. Perry and Hutchinson are attacking because they feel her heat. Baby Boy Bush was in charge along with Chaney. And we know they were secretive. I feel that we should have “initiative and referendum” as well so that the voting public has a say on each an every issue confronting Texans. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the pundits were wrong and people voted out all the incumbents. We need to do a house cleaning. “Vote out the incumbents." Vote out the incumbent Republicans — Vote out the incumbent Democrats — Vote out the incumbent entrenched political hierarchy. Since we do not have “initiative and referendum” nor “term limitation” in many states and areas I feel “We the people” should vote out all the entrenched career politicians.

17.  kb said on Feb. 13, 2010

This is a traditional strategic political ploy to plant disinformation and pull support and divide the electorate. Serious mudslinging and negative ads are being planned now to eliminate the competition at any cost! With complete plausible deniability. Professional politics as usual in Texas. Both Perry and KBH need to go to the unemployment lines just like the rest of the electorate. All incumbents and career politicians must go ASAP at any cost.

18.  josh said on Feb. 13, 2010

Time and again Medina cites the Constitution, that document which gave the United States at least 200 years of incredible growth, freedom and prosperity which is now on the wane. The more we've wandered from its principles, the more we've lost as a country. End the property tax which makes property owners no more than a tenant serf on a lord's land, paying a yearly tribute under the penalty of violence (i.e., sheriffs throwing you out of your own home). Replace it with a sales tax which promotes saving and real investment, and dampens reckless consumer spending on iPods and video games. Vote Medina.

19.  Dave said on Feb. 17, 2010

If there is no property tax, think of all the businesses that will move here, think of the jobs it will bring, think of how much more you can be paid if your company didn't pay property tax, think of the effect on the MILLIONS of families that save all year to pay that tax...think, then act. Vote Medina, anything else is more of the same.

20.  Brandon said on Feb. 21, 2010

Kay Bailey Hutchison has stated privately that she will not participate in a runoff, if she makes it to one, because she is not polling well. She plans on dropping out after the primary unless she is unexpectedly the front-runner.