In PPP’s first poll of likely voters in the race, Republican Rick Perry has moved into a 48-42 lead over Democratic challenger Bill White. There are danger signs for Perry, though, in this anti-incumbent environment: while Texas has no legal term limit, a near majority, 49%, of the state’s voters think a governor should be limited to two terms, with only 26% thinking that there should either be no term limit or that the limit should be more than two terms. Even 41% of Republicans and 61% of independents think there should be a two-term limit. Perry is running for his third full term, now already in his third partial after taking over for George W. Bush.
A bare majority, 50%, now disapprove of Perry’s job performance, with only 39% approving. White, meanwhile, is viewed positively by a 44-29 margin.
While White has increased his lead with independents to 53-34, and still pulls 82% of his party to Perry’s 77% of Republicans, he lags overall because 47% of those who plan to vote are GOP faithful, and only 30% Democrats and 23% independents.
Unlike in many other states, this year’s voters report supporting John McCain less than his actual margin of victory in 2008. With no Senate race nationalizing the state’s politics, and with the unpopular incumbent governor being a Republican, Democrats are, if anything, more motivated to turn out this year than two years ago. In most states with toss-up races, Republicans are taking advantage of a significant enthusiasm gap.