TX-Sen: Dewhurst Leads in GOP Primary, Dems Getting Crushed in General

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (1/14-16, Texas Republican primary voters, no trendlines):

David Dewhurst (R): 23

Ron Paul (R): 21

Greg Abbott (R): 14

Joe Barton (R): 7

Elizabeth Ames Jones (R): 6

Ted Cruz (R): 3

Tom Leppert (R): 3

Michael Williams (R): 3

Roger Williams (R): 1

Other/undecided: 19

(MoE: ±4.9%)

With Kay Bailey Hutchison heading off to a farm upstate, PPP does another one of their genre-busting “let’s throw everyone into the pigpen and see who’s Head Hog” primary polls, a format I admit I’m growing to appreciate. In these early surveys, it’s always the guys with the most name rec who lead the way, so it’s no surprise to see Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst slopping it up at the head of the trough, though 39% of GOP voters still don’t know him. Ron Paul is next in line; PPP didn’t test his favorables, but we can guess they must higher than your average congressman’s – like, say, Smokey Joe Barton, dwelling in the single digits. State AG Greg Abbott occupies the “roast beef” slot, to round out the top tier.

Who are the other piglets? You’ve got Elizabeth Ames Jones, one of three members of the Texas Railroad Commission, all of whom are elected statewide. (Despite the name, the commission doesn’t supervise railroads, but rather the all-important oil-and-gas industry.) Teabagger fave Michael Williams is also on the RRC, and Ted Cruz is the former state Solicitor General, now making rain in private practice despite his tender age. Rounding out the list are Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former TX Sec. of State Roger Williams. Whew!

Interestingly, most of these potential candidates are already in the race or taking serious steps it. Cruz just made it official, and Jones, the only woman in the mix, did the same a few days later. Bush père-endorsed Roger Williams is already in the race. Michael Williams recently announced he plans to step down from the railroad commission, so that probably means only one thing. (In fact, he’ll supposedly announce today.) Leppert’s sending similar signals: a couple of weeks ago he said that he wouldn’t seek re-election as mayor.

Abbott’s still in “rumored” territory, and Barton’s saying he’s unlikely to run if the mega-wealthy Dewhurst gets in, which most folks seem to expect. A lot of people also seem to think that Dewhurst, thanks to his profile and money, will have magical field-clearing powers, but at least one columnist isn’t so sure. Since Dewhurst very firmly has “establishment” branded on his hide, it’s not hard to imagine a teabagger-fueled toppling. Just think about how Rick Perry positioned himself against KBH last year.

An additional name not on PPP’s list is Rep. Michael McCaul, who said he’s not ruling out a run. McCaul probably needs a redistricting bailout if he’s to survive into the next decade, and it would make the lives of Republican state legislators easier if they didn’t have to worry about him seeking re-election, but a senatorial run hardly seems like a better bet.

One guy who doesn’t seem likely to run is His Paulness. Ron initially said to Politico that he was “flattered” by his showing in this poll, and then told The Hill that the prospect of running for senate had “certainly crossed my mind.” But a day later, he was already telling the National Journal that “I don’t think it’s a real possibility.” Apparently, says the NJ, Paul is “waiting to see whether the strength of the nation’s currency improves before deciding whether to run.” It’s not clear to me which direction the dollar heads will make him more likely to get in, but as Crisitunity says: “Seeing as how we’re unlikely to return to the gold standard any time soon, draw your own conclusions.”

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (1/14-16, Texas voters, no trendlines):

Chet Edwards (D): 31

David Dewhurst (R): 50

Undecided: 19

Chet Edwards (D): 31

Elizabeth Ames Jones (R): 44

Undecided: 25

Chet Edwards (D): 30

Tom Leppert (R): 46

Undecided: 24

Chet Edwards (D): 31

Michael Williams (R): 42

Undecided: 27

John Sharp (D): 31

David Dewhurst (R): 49

Undecided: 19

John Sharp (D): 30

Elizabeth Ames Jones (R): 44

Undecided: 26

John Sharp (D): 30

Tom Leppert (R): 42

Undecided: 28

John Sharp (D): 30

Michael Williams (R): 42

Undecided: 28

Julian Castro (D): 25

David Dewhurst (R): 53

Undecided: 23

Julian Castro (D): 27

Elizabeth Ames Jones (R): 48

Undecided: 25

Julian Castro (D): 25

Tom Leppert (R): 48

Undecided: 27

Julian Castro (D): 26

Michael Williams (R): 45

Undecided: 29

(MoE: ±3.3%)

Doesn’t look good out there. Ex-Rep. Chet Edwards, former state Comptroller John Sharp, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro can’t get higher than 31% against any Republican in the field.

57 thoughts on “TX-Sen: Dewhurst Leads in GOP Primary, Dems Getting Crushed in General”

  1. This really begs the question why the DNC or even someone like Soros doesn’t invest a few million in voter registration and outreach in Texas.

  2. Much worse than numbers I expected from polls.  

    Giving up on a party in a state in its entirety is a bad idea.  Obviously presenting no money for specific races make sense, but there are a lot of state House seats I expect the Democrats to win back and the party in the minority has to start somewhere.

  3. Without sounded like cock-eyed optimist, I still hope the Democrats put up a credible challenger. Senate seats in Texas don’t open up often and it’s important to at least try. Elections are unpredictable, sometimes what looks impossible turns out not to be.

  4. I think the “not sures” in the favorable for each candidate was over 50% for everyone but Dewherst. Even Sharp was at 58% “not sure”

    I suspect Palin will endorse some R in this race late this year, and that candidate would get some momentum for the primary. I know she (or her PAC) has said good things about Ames Jones. But only Satan knows who Sarah will endorse.

    So if Palin’s poor showing in TX against President Obama is credible, then the D could make it close if a Palin-endorsed candidate wins the R nomination.

    PPP also had the Hispanic turnout at 17%, which seems a bit low.  

  5. We have no money

    We have no infrastructure

    Our bench is thinned out

    There’s no experience in our strategists, the few there are.

    I would have one giant priority here out. Take complete control of the urban areas. There’s nothing left for us in East Texas, stop the social con outreach. Keep rural issues in mind, but not let them be the priority of the party any more.

    Urban dominance is what we need. Until we dominate, completely the urban cities, I don’t see how we can try and bite off other things. Houston/Harris, Dallas, San Antonio/Bexar, Fort Worth/Tarrant, Austin/Travis, and El Paso should all be ours based on demographics alone. We got Travis and Dallas completely, but there is room for improvement within districts and with the registration/turnout game in Dallas. Houston/Harris is just starting to come around. San Antonio/Bexar seems to just go with whoever, there is no effort by the party to vote a straight ticket and take county control. Tarrant County, demographically, regionally, and by vote percentage mirrors the state pretty well.

    If we can dominate the Urban centers, then we can start rolling into Hayes/Williamson/Fort Bend/Denton/Collin/Galveston etc, but not until then.

    Then there’s the matter of the valley. Everything South of San Antonio and Corpus Cristi is suck. It’s big bosses who control the turn out and only care that enough people show up to vote so that their local handpicked pols stay in office, they don’t care about the state wide slate, so they are not turning them out. There was a great diary a few months ago about the state of Corpus Cristi’s politics.

    And El Paso . . . honestly, they don’t feel like they’re part of Texas and neither does the rest of the state. They’re closer to New Mexico’s capital than Austin. The state doesn’t care about them, and they don’t care about the state.

    Yeah, we need to lock down a lot of these “other” regions, but until our base areas are locked down and acting like “base” areas, we have no business talking about expanding.

  6. First, I don’t thing changing this going to automatically make for a single-digit race, but I would imagine that when two-thirds of the state has no idea who you are, nothing besides natural leanings come into play. That can change, of course, and the majority of the undecideds could swing towards the Republican, but there’s no indication of that now.

    Second, figure that unless it’s really bad year for Democrats, our floor is more like Rick Noriega’s (43 percent) than Barbara Ann Randofsky’s (36 percent). If that’s the case, and the Republican doesn’t see some sort of Boxer-like 2004 surge, we’ll need about 1.2 million votes to win. That’s quite a lot, but there are two things to consider. One is that Texas’ voter turnout is usually very low. There are a lot of people that just never show up–about five million of them, in fact. It’s not at all clear what type of voters they are, but even if they resemble the rest of the state, we’ve still got a few million that are potentially ours for the taking. The other is that there lots of unregistered voters, many of whom are minorities that are far more willing to vote for us than the white population of the state. It would certainly take a lot of time to mobilize these people, but there are there.

    A lot of people are going to say it’ll be expensive, but just how expensive? For this past election, a group called Houston Votes figure that it could register 100,000 new voters and turn out 50,000 of them (of the 600,000 that aren’t registered in Harris County) with a total budget of $675,000. I’m not sure if more money was given by the state or some other third party, but if that’s the majority of the cost, then it’s pretty damn cheap, all things considered. And while there were some issues as this process was happening*, the group was supposedly registering 900-1,000 voters a day. All of the usual statements about diminishing marginal returns and low hanging fruit apply, but imagine how many people could be registered simply by expanding such efforts to the biggest areas of the state. It could benefit the House candidates as well, but since we are talking about a statewide race, it’s possible to just focus mostly on areas where we are already doing well.

    I could go on, but suffice it to say that it looks like we could make this a real race. A lot of the work needs to be done by the Democratic candidate, but we should use the Obama campaign’s resources as well.

    At this point, the strongest possible signal the Democrats could send that they are taking the state seriously is to send the man who organized in Virginia or Indiana in the general election in 2008 to Texas. It’d be far easier to get people to send money, for one thing, and history shows that these guys know what they are doing.  

  7. Under the assumption that the Republican presidential nominee will carry Texas I wondered about recent examples of winning a senate seat off the other party in presidential years when the other party wins the electoral votes in that state.

    2008 – Mark Begich wins in Alaska while McCain wins by 21 points.

    2004 – Ken Salazar wins in Colorado while Bush wins by 5 points.

    2000 – Mel Carnahan wins in Missouri while Bush wins by 3 points.

    2000 – Bill Nelson wins in Florida while Bush “wins” by 537 votes.

    1996 – Tim Hutchinson wins in Arkansas while Clinton wins by 17 points.

    1996 – Tim Johnson wins in South Dakota while Dole wins by 3 points.

    So to win in Texas next year it would take a flawed Republican and a top-notch Democrat. But we knew that already. It isn’t necessarily impossible though and I think it shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. Especially with the paucity of pick-up targets elsewhere.

  8. Texas won’t shift towards being a tossup state if the Dems just sit back and wait.  Yeah maybe it will shift a few points as a result of the growing the minority population.  However it will take investment from the Ds and the Rs alienation of minorities.

    I agree with a previous comment which stated the Dems need to work hard on the urban areas and to work to get that to bleed into the nearby suburbs.  Especially in further solidification of Dallas County as a Democratic stronghold, work in Harris and Bexar county to shift them from swingy to blue and to flip Tarrant county from red-to-blue.  Travis is already solidified and there is definitely still a push there towards the Democrats in the northern suburbs.  

    Texas is a problem for the Democrats given the fast growing population and it’s increase in representation in the House and Electoral college.  Ceding it without a fight could possibly end up alienating the Hispanic vote.

  9. While he gets 21 percent in this poll, that’s basically probably where he would top out.  Everybody already knows who Paul is and while he has that diehard base of support, he doesn’t have a lot of room to grow on it and certainly couldn’t win a runoff.

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