DALLAS -- Republican Gov. Rick Perry swept to re-election Tuesday by running strongly among voters who are angry with the federal government and worried about the direction of the economy.
Perry also won big among voters who support the tea party and who disapprove of President Barack Obama's job performance.
Making his acceptance speech in front of supporters in Buda, south of Austin, he said:
"Texas has spoken. And we’re on the right track by exercising one of the most precious rights. Citizens of our state have sent a very clear message with their votes that they are optimistic about the future of our country and they believe Texas is headed in the right direction."
"Today’s results affirm what we all know about Texas votes and they don’t take their decisions lightly. And they are far more likely to base their decision on real-life issues like good jobs, safe neighborhoods, accountable schools for their kids. They know that the answer to the challenges of their daily lives won’t be solved by bigger government and all of that entails," he added.
"And Texans aren’t alone in that regard. All across the country, in precinct after precinct, the way that this dissatisfaction has been building for two years, it crested tonight in the form of conservatives winning offices and champions of big government are cleaning out their offices right now," he said.
The preliminary results from an Associated Press exit poll of more than 2,700 voters in Tuesday's election seemed to validate the Republican governor's campaign strategy, which included television ads boasting that he had "confronted" Obama and had helped boost the Texas economy.
Nearly two-thirds of voters surveyed said they were worried about the economy, and they supported Perry, who won a third term, by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Most voters called the economy the biggest issue facing the country, dwarfing concerns about health care, illegal immigration and the war in Afghanistan.
Democratic challenger Bill White fared well among self-described moderates and rolled up a huge margin among voters who said President Barack Obama is doing a good job.
Perry tried to link White with Obama in campaign advertisements. White, the former Houston mayor, said Texas needed change after 10 years of Perry in the statehouse.
White voters were more likely to say they strongly favored their candidate, but many White voters said they were motivated by their dislike of Perry.
"I just wanted Perry gone," said Gene Carlton, who is retired from the construction business, after voting in the Dallas suburb of Plano. "I didn't like anything about his administration."
Nearly three-fourths of Perry's own voters said they had reservations about the governor.
Perry tried to tap into anger directed at the federal government and Obama. The strategy clicked with many voters.
"I'm angry at Washington -- I don't think they're fiscally responsible," said Lynn Searcey, an insurance company underwriter in Plano who voted for Perry. "Everybody else is tightening their wallets, but they are not."
James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas in Austin, said anger at the federal government was felt most keenly among Republicans and mirrored disapproval of Obama.
"You'll hear talk about the angry electorate, but what we're really talking about is conservatives and angry Republicans," Henson said. "The president's policies -- and something about the president himself -- have activated partisanship on the Republican side."
The survey of 2,700 Texas voters was conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews with voters from a random sample of 30 precincts statewide Tuesday, and 750 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 22 through Oct. 31.
Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; higher for subgroups.