Ted Cruz’s Victory Last Night Was Bad News For Rick Perry

Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen contends that, in addition to David Dewhurst, Governor Rick Perry had a very bad night last night:

David Dewhurst is obviously the biggest loser in the Texas Senate election tonight. When we first polled a hypothetical runoff match up between him and Ted Cruz the week before the primary, he led59-34. In just over two months he managed to turn that into a pretty substantial defeat.

There’s another big loser tonight though and it has major implications for Texas politics looking toward 2014: Rick Perry.

Our final pre-election poll on this race found that two times more Texas Republicans considered an endorsement from Rick Perry to be a negative than a positive. 35% said they were less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Perry, 15% said they were more likely to, and 50% said they didn’t care either way. Dewhurst’s choice to spotlight his support from Perry so heavily is curious against the backdrop of those numbers.

The result tonight provides real world evidence of something that we’ve been finding in our polling for a while now: that Perry’s standing has been significantly diminished in Texas after his failed White House bid and that he could be in serious trouble if he tries for another term in 2014.

Texas  is one of the states left that doesn’t term limit its Governor so Perry could theoretically run for a third term and end up serving 18 years in the State House since he took over from George W. Bush in December 2000. But, as Jensen notes, his negatives in the state are pretty high right now:

-Only 39% of Texas voters approve of the job Perry is doing to 53% who disapprove.

-Just 29% of voters think Perry should seek another term in 2014 to 64% who think he should not.

-He could find himself in trouble even in a primary election. In a hypothetical contest with Attorney General Greg Abbott, Perry leads only 50-34. Those are considerably weaker numbers than Dewhurst started out with.

2014 is still two years away, of course, and these poll numbers likely reflect the dip in approval that Perry experienced in Texas after he returned to Austin at the end of his Presidential campaign. Additionally, Perry has not committed to running for re-election although most observers seem to expect that he will do it. Nonetheless, this isn’t a very good development for Perry and the selection of his hand-picked Senate nominee is a sharp rebuke in a state where he crushed Kay Bailey Hutchinson in a primary and then won the General Election by 600,000 votes only two years ago.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    -Only 39% of Texas voters approve of the job Perry is doing to 53% who disapprove.
    -Just 29% of voters think Perry should seek another term in 2014 to 64% who think he should not.

    What is it that Perry is doing that causes this level of disapproval?
    Nothing in particular? Are Texans just tired of him?

    He’s the same doofus they’ve elected and re-elected, so I don’t understand the sudden disapproval.

  2. @al-Ameda:

    The first job approval polls after he dropped out of the Republican primary race showed that he had dropped significantly from where he was before he started running, and a large number of Texans didn’t think he should’ve run while serving as Governor.

    I don’t get the impression that this has anything to do with anything he’s done as Governor so much as, like you said, they might be tired of him (he’s been Governor for 12 years remember) and they didn’t really appreciate his run for the White House.

  3. Eric says:

    This makes me wonder if the White House run had a huge effect on Perry’s political career. Perry on the national stage must have impacted views not only from Americans, but specifically Texans as well. And I heard that Texas is doing rather well (compared to most states).

  4. @al-Ameda:

    He’s the same doofus they’ve elected and re-elected, so I don’t understand the sudden disapproval.

    It’s actually not as all of a sudden as it looks. He won back in 2006 with only 39% of the vote.

    The thing is: he is popular with the base (i.e, those who do the nominating–at least he was) and the Democratic Party is anemic. He did do a masterful job of riding the Tea Party wave in 2010.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    You’re probably right Doug. Even relatively popular governors wear out their welcome after 8 years. I have sisters who live in Texas, as well as many relatives, and they are all conservative, and they think Perry is fine.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m going to repost my comment from the earlier Ted Cruz thread, since by the time I got to it, it was already a dead thread, and it is more pertinent here:

    “As you noted Doug, there were miniscule policy differences between the two men, despite Cruz’s attempt to portray Dewhurst as a moderate. The main thing that I think this runoff reveals is that Perry / Dewhurt’s time in Austin will likely end in 2014. There are too many “R”s chomping at the bit here that have been waiting upwards of a decade for a sign of weakness.

    Between #PerryFAIL last fall and Dewhurt’s current ignominy, there’s blood in the water. Dewhurst already has a declared 2014 primary opponent for Lt. Governor in Jerry Patterson, the current Land Commissioner, and an undeclared opponent in State Comptroller Susan Combs. And Greg Abbott, the current Attorney General, started making noises about running for Governor last year once Perry announced his presidential bid.

    I should note that all of the challengers noted hold current elected statewide office in Texas. That seems to be the pattern that Dems can’t break – the easiest way to become Gov or Lt. Gov is to hold one of the dozen or so other elected statewide offices. And those are all held by Rs – at least in part because we have Party Line voting on Texas ballots. The Ds strong players are all in the Lege or are Mayors of large cities, which makes them poor competitors in a state with a half dozen large media markets.”

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I can tell a woman’s age just by feeling her breasts. You are….. are….. 24.”

    Oooopps. This isn’t the caption contest. Oh well.

  8. Scott says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Perry has never been very popular. He has had very bad candidates to run against. At some point, people realize they want a well run government whether it be large or small. Unfortunately for Republicans, they tend to want government to fail to reinforce their demand for small government. After 18 years of running the state government, they can no longer run away for being responsible for it.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Perry’s star is waning. On the bright side, he will live very comfortably for the rest of his life courtesy of the taxpayers.

  10. Tex Thompson says:

    As others have mentioned, Perry has never been very popular. He’s mostly tolerable and good at making his opponents seem intolerable. 2002 and 2010 were Republican years, Hutchison was a poor campaigner (out of practice, I guess), and in 2006 he won a very divided field. That he keeps getting re-elected actually says more about the awful state of the Texas Democratic Party than anything else.

    @Gromitt Gunn: I think you’re giving the Democrats too much of a free pass here. Paul Hobby ran closer than anyone else, but was never recruited to run again. The displaced congressmen from redistricting (Stenholm, Turner, & Sandlin in particular) were never recruited to run for statewide office. John Sharp (who had lost twice, but had a respectable showing) has been shooed out of running again, Paul Hobby (who almost beat Rylander/Strayhorn. The more they lost, the more I started hearing “not progressive enough” by party activists when evaluating candidates. Bell and White were pulled away from the center when they ran, and don’t speak the language anyway. Demographic picks became more frequent when they needed candidates who speak the language. They’re waiting for demographics to save them, or the state to come to its senses. These are bad bets. Sadler is actually the best top-race candidate they’ve had in a while, personally speaking. And he was an accident (and I doubt they will really promote him anyway).

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Until someone actually beats Perry in Texas I’d say it’s a sucker’s bet to bet against him.

  12. Jib says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Some of it is his policies. Texas went through tough budget cuts a while back and Perry hit education hard. The whole process exposed the good old boy network in Austin as the winners and losers were very clear. Some of it was hard core right wing ideology but a lot of it was good old fashion Texas corruption.

    I do think the prez run was the final straw. Embarrassing your state by looking like a total spaz on national TV is never good for any politician.