Texas voters increasingly see Republicans as "arrogant, corrupt, angry and unwelcoming."
By WAYNE SLATER
The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – Texas voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the state's Republican leaders and are open to the idea of electing a Democrat as governor in the next election, according to a new survey by an established GOP pollster.
The survey, conducted by David Hill, raises questions about whether the Republican Party might be in trouble after a decade of political dominance in Texas.
"The poll results challenge the conventional wisdom that Texas is a solidly red state," said Mr. Hill. "This shows that the Republican Party's image, even among Anglos and conservatives and self-professed Republicans, is often not what we would like it to be."
Texas voters don't think the GOP is delivering government that is low-cost, in-touch or devoted to the common good, the poll shows.
Mr. Hill said he found that perceptions of Republicans as arrogant, corrupt, angry and unwelcoming jeopardize the party's dominance. The GOP currently holds every statewide office and controls the Legislature.
The poll is good news for Democrats, who have seen steady but modest gains in the Legislature over the last six years, and a warning to top GOP officeholders, including Gov. Rick Perry, who plans to seek re-election in 2010. Polls of attitudes about parties don't necessarily predict how specific candidates would do, however, especially with two years until the next statewide election.
"Polls can say anything," said Perry communications chief Mark Minor. "When the time comes, people are going to vote for someone who puts forward the best ideas and the best leadership."
The poll is the most extensive survey of voter opinion in Texas since the November elections. Republican John McCain won, as did the few statewide GOP candidates on the ballot, but Democrats advanced in some local and legislative races. Among the findings:
- When asked if they were likely to vote for Republicans or Democrats for governor or the Legislature in the next election, without a specific name attached, 45 percent said Democrats and 31 percent said Republican.
- Fewer than half (45 percent) of voters say they approve of the job Texans are doing in state government. When asked whether they think Republican elected officials in the state have done well enough to deserve re-election, only 32 percent of voters said yes, while 54 percent were open to giving Democrats a chance in office.
- The conservative GOP base – 21 percent of the overall electorate – is significantly concerned with the issues of illegal immigration and protecting traditional values. But Mr. Hill found that the party's potential for growth lies in focusing more on pocketbook issues, including property-tax cuts and reductions in state spending.
- Voters overwhelmingly cite dismay with President George W. Bush as a factor in the GOP's image problem but also blame state leaders for failing to connect with younger voters and Hispanics.
© 2008 The Dallas Morning News: www.dallasnews.com
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