You have to dig, but buried within the survey notes [pdf] headlined by the lead Rick Perry has over Kay Bailey-Hutchinson in the much anticipated 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, is a question asking respondents about the 2012 presidential race.
Q24: If the 2012 presidential election were held today, which of the following would you vote for, or haven't you enough about it to have an opinion?Among the full sample of 924 Texans, Barack Obama edged Mitt Romney 36-34 (with a full 30% still unsure). There is a lot there at which to look. For starters, Barack Obama is ahead in Texas; that's fairly monumental whether it is July 2009 (Well, actually June, since the poll was conducted from June 11-22.) or July 2012. Granted there are some caveats. First of all, the above numbers are pooled from the full sample of respondents. Among just the registered voters, Romney leads Obama 39-34. And while that's more in line with where we'd all expect Texas to be from a partisan perspective, there is a note of caution for Republicans there (and Democrats, too). First of all, let's not read too much into a state poll three years in advance.
That said, is Mitt Romney a good candidate for the GOP? If Texas is a toss up, the White House will be a tough proposition for the Republican Party; it's that simple. Without those 37 or 38 electoral votes (after the 2010 reallocation), there just aren't that many paths to 270 for the GOP. Before this runaway train gathers too much speed, let's attempt to put on the brakes. Much of this is attributable to the fact that Texans (a quarter of them) just don't have that much knowledge about Mitt Romney. 27% of the respondents weren't sure enough about the former Massachusetts governor to offer an opinion on whether he was from outside of government, someone with experience or somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It could simply be that Texans are waiting for the identity of the Republican candidate -- any Republican candidate -- to be revealed.
And this is where the Democrats come in. This is the type of poll that sends Democrats to Texas to register new voters. It isn't unlike how Republicans are looking at New Jersey in the governor's race right now. Early polls are deceptive. Though, if the GOP doesn't do something to pull in Hispanic voters in Texas (and elsewhere), those states won't be like New Jersey to the GOP for long; they'll shift toward the Democrats (with all other things held constant).
Finally, why was only Mitt Romney included? No Palin. No Huckabee. No Gingrich. And this poll was in the field before the Palin announcement last week. It is a curious move, but perhaps an interesting nod to the fact that Romney is still the odds on favorite to be the next GOP nominee (albeit it an only slight one). I really would like to have seen some of those other prospective candidates included.
But with three years to go, beggars can't be choosers. A poll is a poll is a poll, after all and FHQ will take what it can get.
State of the Race: New Jersey (7/9/09)
Which is Bigger?
State of the Race: Virginia (7/8/09)