Good or bad news for Dan Patrick?

According to the Quorum Report, Senator Dan Patrick it touting a new poll that shows David Dewhurst with 40% of the vote for Lt. Governor among likely Republican voters while 18% support Patrick. Patrick seems to feel that he is gaining on Dewhurst who had 43% in the previous poll. The Wickers Group, source of the poll, concludes that David Dewhurst’s  support  eroded over past summer and Dan Patrick “remains well-positioned to win this race.”

I guess you could say that.

On the other hand, most pollsters would immediately note that the shift is smaller than the margin of error of the poll (+/- 4.5%). In fact, I suspect that most pollsters would lead with that.

Further, it’s hard to believe that Dewhurst’s summer could have been much worse. First, he was portrayed as weak in his failure to shut down the filibuster and demonstrations that stalled the abortion bill during the special session. Then, he came across as weak as he tried to get a relative out of jail by trying to convince law enforcement that he was actually someone. It was too reminiscent of Will Farrell’s character trying to convince a woman he’s trying to impress that he was “kind of a big deal.”

My takeaway from the poll is that Dewhurst still has better than double the support of his nearest competitor and his rivals have a lot of work to do. The wind has been at Patrick’s back all summer and his gains have been statistically insignificant. Patrick has always had a strong base of support among conservative Republicans and it’s surprising that he hasn’t expanded beyond 18%.

The poor showing of Ag Commissioner Todd Staples  (4%) and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (4%) may be the biggest news out of the poll. They’ll be battling to escape last place. They could surge if the fight between Dewhurst and Patrick turns nasty enough  to chase voters away from the frontrunners in large numbers. Short of that, it’s hard to see how they get into the race.

The Lt. Governor’s race is just starting and there is a lot of campaigning ahead. However, any suggestion that Patrick is doing better than expected is little more than wishful thinking.

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