It’s hard to tell what’s more surprising about the Texas Tribune’s poll of Republicans in the nation’s second-largest state (27 million people): that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is virtually tied for first place in the state’s presidential primary sweepstakes, or that former governor Rick Perry is in fifth place, having just finished 14 years in office.
Senator Ted Cruz, a tea-party favorite, was at 20 percent support in the Tribune poll (conducted with the University of Texas) followed by Walker at 19 percent. Then there was a big drop off — Jeb Bush at 9 percent, tied with Ben Carson. Then came Perry at 8 percent. Other disappointed contenders have to include Rand Paul at 4 percent (his father served in Congress from the state for two decades) and Chris Christie at 2 percent (his Northeastern swagger clearly isn’t seen as competing with the Texas model).
Walker polled only 2 percent in the last Tribune poll so his rise is nothing short of astonishing. “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. “Conservatives are willing to look at another candidate who fits that profile.”
Ted Cruz is still on top with his state’s Republicans but he has a challenge. Two out of five Texas Republicans are favorable to him, but a surprisingly high 36 percent view his brash style and take-no-prisoners tactics unfavorably.