Perry's lead grows in newly released survey

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by BRAD WATSON / WFAA

wfaa.com

Posted on February 25, 2010 at 1:37 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 25 at 1:58 PM

DALLAS - With less than a week left before the March 2nd primary next Tuesday and early voting ending Friday, a new poll shows some movement among the candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor.

The Rasmussen Report survey puts Gov. Rick Perry with 48 percent of the support, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison at 27 percent and GOP activist Debra Medina at 16 percent.

Perry has gained five points since the Belo debate at the end of January. Hutchison lost two, and Medina has stayed flat.

While ahead, Perry's problem is that he hasn't been able to break above 50 percent on any poll to reach the majority to win. So, for him, winning outright isn't yet a reality. However, he said he likely sees a good outcome next Tuesday night.

“Hopefully, at 8 or 9 o'clock, we'll be able to say thank you for all the work and let's all get together and focus on November," he said.

Although polls show he doesn’t have a majority, there is a way he can get there.

“It appears with Debra Medina kind of stalling, he's going to get those voters," said  Jeff Eller, vice chairman of Public Strategies, Inc. "And I think as we look at the race today, he's on track probably to break 50 percent on next Tuesday.”

Public Strategies is a leading communications and public affairs research firm. Its statisticians looked over numbers on turnout and regional polling breakouts and found that for Perry to win outright he would need at minimum of 63 percent of Republican votes in the Houston area,  63 percent in San Antonio and South Texas Rio Grande Valley, 45 percent in Central Texas, 26 percent in East Texas and 51 percent in North Texas.

Perry winning slightly more than half the votes in North Texas, Hutchison’s backyard, would be extraordinary considering Hutchison won big majorities in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties in the 2006 general election. Perry didn't get majorities in any of them.

But, Eller said Perry's anti-Washington message and big TV ad buys in the final days could make the difference.

“But, the contrast between the two campaigns is so stark and different I think that for him to get more than half the vote here in the metroplex is not that far off," he said.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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