Recent events in Texas have reinvigorated progressives in the state, and served as a shot in the arm for Democratic efforts to turn the Lone Star State into a competitive battleground. After state Sen. Wendy Davis' (D) rise to national prominence, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) drew widespread criticism for going after her personally, a Democrat could be forgiven for imagining a toss-up gubernatorial race in 2014.
But Public Policy Polling reminds us this afternoon that Texas is still Texas, and its deep-red hue hasn't faded yet.
PPP's new Texas poll finds that Wendy Davis made a good impression on voters in the state last week -- but that Rick Perry has also enhanced his political standing considerably over the last five months, making him tough to beat for reelection. [...]Davis would trail Rick Perry by 14 points in a hypothetical match up, 53/39. While Davis' standing has improved over the last five months so has Perry's.
This is obviously just one poll; the election is still over 16 months away; and Davis hasn't even launched a campaign. But given the excitement of the last week, and the resurgence of progressive activism on display in Austin yesterday, it was easy to forget that Texas is among the nation's most Republican-friendly states. No Democrats hold statewide office, and the state voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama last year by 16 points -- and Romney wasn't even especially popular in the state.
"Battleground Texas," in other words, has a long way to go.
As for the rest of the PPP results, a plurality of Texans (39%) have a favorable opinion of Davis and a near majority (45%) support the filibuster she launched last week. Less than a third of the state (30%) believes Perry should seek yet another term, but he nevertheless leads Davis in a hypothetical match-up by double digits, boosted in part by increased support from the far-right GOP base.
Meanwhile, the anti-abortion bill, SB5, is not widely known by Texans -- 52% of the state has no opinion on the proposal -- though opponents outnumber supporters, 28% to 20%.