Sen. Cornyn's Reelect Numbers Fall Below 50 Percent in Texas
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Apr 23, 2007 at 11:06:57 AM EDT
In recent weeks and months, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hasn't only been polling in the states where it is obvious that a strong Democratic challenger might be able to upset a Republican incumbent. Apparently, they have also been in the field in other states, including Texas.
1. George W Bush has a negative job rating in Texas (47% positive - 51% negative) and the voters are nearly evenly split on whether their family would be better off with a Democrat or Republican majority in the US Senate (41% Democrats - 43% Republicans).
2. A strong plurality of voters in Texas believe the country is headed in the wrong direction (34% right direction - 49% wrong direction). President Bush's job rating on handling Iraq is even more negative (41% positive - 58% negative).
3. Republican John Cornyn has lower than expected name recognition for an incumbent US Senator, with 39% of the electorate unable to rate Cornyn either favorably or unfavorably. Overall he is 41% favorable - 19% unfavorable.
4. Senator Cornyn's generic reelect versus a Democrat is under 50% (47% Republican John Cornyn - 38% Democratic candidate; 15% undecided).
1 The following memo is based on a survey of 800 registered likely voters in Texas. Hamilton Beattie & Staff conducted telephone interviewing April 11-15, 2007. The margin of error for the statewide sample is ± 3.5 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level.
The point of posting this poll is not to indicate that I believe that Texas will necessarily be on the board in the race for the Senate but rather that the Democrats at least have the opportunity to put the Republicans on the defensive in yet another state this year -- a fact that could be bad news for the Republicans, both because they have not shown an ability to match Chuck Schumer's fundraising prowess at the DSCC and because they are defending 75 percent more seats in 2008 than are the Democrats.
Clearly, the Democrats need to find a suitable candidate for the race in Texas -- a race that, as mentioned above, might not even turn out competitive but could and likely would, at the very least, put the GOP on its heels. Markos seems to like a state Rep. named Rick Noriega, whose name has been forwarded by 2004 Tom DeLay challenger and Netroots hero Richard Morrison. Other names currently being bandied about include the former state comptroller John Sharp, Houston Mayor Bill White and former Congressman Jim Turner.
Regardless of who ends up getting into the race and whom the Democrats eventually nominate, this polling does at least hold out the hope that this could be a competitive race. And as we've seen any number of times in recent cycles, whether it was in Virginia in 2006 or Kentucky in 2004, strange things can happen in senatorial contests that can blow wide open races previously viewed as cakewalks.