Thursday, October 05, 2006

Poll: Strayhorn going up, Perry going down.

Strayhorn gains ground in new poll

Oct. 05, 2006

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2006

AUSTIN -- Independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn has gained ground over the past month, while Republican Gov. Rick Perry has lost steam, a poll of 603 likely voters released Wednesday shows.

The poll, conducted by the Texas Trial Lawyers Association by Austin-based Opinion Analysts Inc., also shows that Democrat Chris Bell remains unknown to more than one-third of the respondents and independent Kinky Friedman is viewed unfavorably by 4 in 10 Texans surveyed.

"It would appear that Chris Bell and Kinky Friedman are really hurting by not being up on TV statewide," said Houston political consultant Dan McClung, who was hired by the trial lawyers to analyze the polling data.

The campaign of Strayhorn, the two-term state comptroller who in January broke with the GOP to run as an independent, immediately seized on the results, saying it was clear that she is the only candidate capable of taking down Perry in the Nov. 7 election.

"This is the first poll that really shows movement, and that movement is Carole going up and Perry going down," said Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders.

According to the poll, Perry was favored by 33 percent to Strayhorn's 20 percent. Friedman polled 14 percent, half a percentage point above Bell. Libertarian candidate James Werner was not included in the poll, which has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A poll conducted by the trial lawyers group in September showed Perry 9 percentage points higher and Strayhorn 6 points lower. The other two candidates were roughly the same.

McClung said that the trial lawyers group has not taken sides in the governor's race but conceded that its membership has typically "not been happy with Perry."

The governor's camp seized on that observation to cast doubt on the group's numbers.

"This is a setup deal by the trial lawyers," said Perry spokesman Robert Black.

Laura Stromberg, a spokesman for Friedman, said the singer and writer's campaign targets Texans that traditional polls overlook: unlikely voters.

"If likely voters, and by that I mean the 29 percent that turned out in 2002, decide this race, then Kinky loses," Stromberg said. "Kinky's whole strategy is to go after those who are disillusioned or fed up with politics. So if we see turnout reach 35 or 40 percent, those people are not going to be coming out to re-elect Rick Perry."

Heather Guntert, spokeswoman for Bell, said the former congressman from Houston was late entering the fray with TV advertising. She predicted an uptick as more viewers see his two 30-second ads, which are largely running on cable stations.

Guntert also said Bell stands to gain the most from Friday evening's televised debate among the four leading candidates, which will be shown in Dallas-Fort Worth on WFAA/Channel 8.

"Chris Bell looks forward to being compared side by side with Rick Perry and the others," she said. "He will be seen as a sane and sensible alternative to Rick Perry."





John Moritz, 512-476-4294

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