A new poll released by the non-profit non-partisan group Texas Lyceum found that President Obama is almost as popular as Gov. Rick Perry in the Lone Star State.
The poll found that President Barack Obama’s 51% Texas approval rating is only 3 points behind that of Governor Rick Perry (54%). Texas Republicans aren’t thrilled with any of their choices in the GOP primary. Mitt Romney leads Sarah Palin, 16%-14%. Ron Paul is third at 10%, and Rick Perry is fourth at 9%. Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty were fifth and sixth at 8% and 7% respectively.
Interestingly, the combined support of Paul and Perry if rallied behind one home state candidate would be enough to be leading Mitt Romney by 3 points, 19%-16%. When asked if they would vote for Obama or the Republican candidate in 2012, the GOP candidate led Obama 44%-35%.
In 2008 McCain beat Obama by 10 points in Texas, but where the Obama campaign sees hope for 2012 is in the fact that the President got 63% of the Latino vote in 2008, and 1.5 million more Spanish speaking voters will be eligible to go to the polls in 2012.
As Politico reported, “The spike in voting-eligible Hispanics offers a tantalizing prospect for Democratic strategists who have yearned to flip Texas ever since John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published their landmark book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which predicted just such a shift nine years ago.”
Republicans counter with the argument that five Hispanic Republicans were elected to the Texas House in 2010, and there is no evidence that Texas will be in play in 2012. However, Obama will likely have a billion dollars at his disposal and could easily spend the $15-$25 million needed to get Democratic Hispanic turnout up high enough to match the Republican 3 to 1 advantage with white voters in the state.
The Obama campaign showed willingness in 2008 to make Republicans spend precious resources defending Red States. No one should be surprised if the Obama team decides to make the cash strapped GOP spend millions defending Texas in 2012. If the conditions are right, Obama may take a serious run at turning Texas blue.
A lot can change between now and next fall, but the long predicted bluing of Texas could take its next step towards becoming a reality in 2012.