Two things jump out at me from some recent presidential polling in Texas.
One is as a political analyst notes, that Sen. Ted Cruz’s once-huge lead among Texas Republicans has vanished; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is breathing down the Cruz Missile’s neck.
The other one, though, perhaps is even more startling: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — the TEA party darling and the all-time champeen among Texas Republican vote-getters — is trailing far behind the two frontrunners.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Perry with just 8 percent of the vote among Texas Republicans. He trails Cruz, Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (a former Texan, by the way), and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
“Scott Walker is clearly breathing some of the oxygen on the right. The big takeaway here is that Ted Cruz is still a giant among Texas Republicans — but he is not invulnerable,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “Conservatives are willing to look at another candidate who fits that profile.”
I know. It’s still early. The GOP race isn’t yet formed fully. None of these “candidates” has actually announced formally a presidential candidacy. I’m hoping all of them jump in. I want a full-throated debate among Republicans, who’ve shown quite a talent in recent election cycles for carving each other into a zillion little pieces.
As for Perry, well, he’s got some work to do.
He left office in January, headed off to Iowa to take part in something called a Freedom Summit. He’s trying to dress up his image, make himself sound more presidential. But so far, the attention has been sucked away by Cruz and Walker.
Oh, and the Democrats? Hillary Clinton is favored among 62 percent of Texas Democrats. No story there. She won’t carry Texas in November 2016, no matter how strong she looks today — or on Election Day.
Gov. Perry, though, has to get busy.