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With national political trends causing Democrats – especially incumbents – to hunker down this election year, research shows that Texas political culture remains unique among the 50 states. Of the 38 governors’ races nationwide, Republican incumbents are playing defense in only four: Texas, Arizona, Alaska and Nebraska.
National media has vacillated between calling 2010a tidal wave election year for Republicans and an anti-incumbent “throw the bums out” election. According to Pollster.com, Governors Jan Brewer of Arizona, Sean Parnell of Alaska, and Dave Heinemann of Nebraska all have maintained double-digit leads over their Democratic challengers throughout their races.
Three of the four incumbent Republican governors running for re-election are riding the GOP wave, while Texas Governor Rick Perry’s opponent Bill White is within striking distance. Looking at Pollster.com, Perry’s lead has shrunk to an average of 3.9 points over White since July. Meanwhile, the latest gubernatorial polls show Perry in a statistical dead heat with White: 44-41 (Zogby), 42-41 (Texas Watch/Hill Research Consultants poll), and 48-42 (PPP). All three fall within each poll’s margin of error.
Republican wave or “throw the bums out”?
Regardless of animosity toward national Democrats, the idea of a career politician occupying the governor’s office for 14 years (or more) has put a bad taste in Texans’ mouths. While other Republican governors are looking at a smooth election season and national political prognosticators are calling for 30 Republican gubernatorial wins on November 2, Rick Perry is in the political fight of his life. After coasting to victory in 2006, and barely lifting a finger in his bruising primary battle against popular U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rick Perry is facing the unfamiliar circumstances of both an anti-incumbent election year and a pragmatic, business-savvy,moderate Democratic opponent.
Second most important race in the nation
According to “The Fix” blog by the Washington Post, the race for Texas Governor is the second most important race in the nation when it comes to redistricting. Says the Post: “Texas will gain more Congressional seats than any other state, adding as many as four through reapportionment. So train a keen eye on former Houston Mayor Bill White's (D) gubernatorial campaign.”