The Brief: Top Texas News for Nov. 1, 2011

The Big Conversation:

Rick Perry may claim credit for Texas' economic success, but most Texans aren't buying it, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Sixty-five percent of respondents attributed Texas' relative economic success — which Perry has touted on the presidential campaign trail — to long-standing policies and factors like the oil and gas industry, the state's lenient regulatory climate and the absence of an income tax. Twenty-one percent credited Perry with the state's success.

"They're not crediting him, but I find that unsurprising," said Daron Shaw, the UT government professor who co-directs the poll. "Voters are rational gods of vengeance, but it's not clear to me how much they're rational gods of reward.  They'll kill you if things go wrong — they may give you some credit if things go right."

But the poll results, as the Trib's Ross Ramsey notes, seem to bolster Perry's claims that his efforts to keep taxes low and fend off regulations helped the state avoid the depths of the recession.

Respondents were also asked whether series of words or phrases described Perry. They agreed most strongly with the descriptions "conservative," "a real Texan" and, perhaps troubling for the governor, "career politician."

"The thing that really sticks out to me is the degree to which the governor is seen as a career politician," said Jim Henson, who directs the poll with Shaw. "He very effectively de-emphasized the career-politician part of his profile in the 2010 race with Kay Bailey Hutchison by negatively portraying her association with national government. He can't do that in a race where he's running for national office."

Culled:

  • Newly ascendant Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain acknowledged Monday that he'd been accused in the 1990s of sexually harassing two female colleagues, as Politico reported Sunday night, but he denied any wrongdoing. Though the controversy threatens to engulf Cain's candidacy (possibly creating an opening for Rick Perry, who has fallen precipitously in most polls), Nate Silver of The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight notes that distrust of the media among conservative voters could protect Cain from long-term harm.
  • Make Us Great Again, the pro-Rick Perry Super PAC headed by former Perry chief of staff Mike Toomey, has made its first ad buys. The two biographical TV spots, which the group paid $382,000 to run, will air in Iowa and South Carolina.
  • The Trib's Brandi Grissom reported Monday that the Texas Youth Commission, which operates the state's juvenile corrections facilities, has terminated its contract with a psychologist who testified repeatedly in death penalty cases that black and Hispanic inmates were more likely to commit future offenses.

"I don't agree with him on that, and I think most Texans don't agree with him either." — U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz on Rick Perry's support for a Texas law granting in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. (Cruz has endorsed Perry for president.)

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