On the heels of a Rasmussen Poll that had Democrat Bill White well behind incumbent Republican Rick Perry in the race for governor, Austin-based Opinion Analysts released a survey showing a nine-point lead for Perry. But that Democratic polling firm adds a fat caveat, reading the Guv's favorability ratings as negative and pointing out that 48 percent of voters want a change in the state's top office, when asked if they prefer Perry or "someone else."

They didn't release entire poll (bzzztt!!!! warning!!!!), but here's the firm's poll memo:

Opinion Analysts recently completed a survey of 602 likely 2010 General election voters Statewide.  The poll was conducted May 7-13.  The sample size is sufficient for statistical accuracy within +/- 4.0% at the 95% confidence level. The survey was commissioned by a private individual who has authorized the following remarks based on the results of that survey.

While Rick Perry does lead in the Texas Governor’s race, he is still polling below 50% among likely 2010 voters.  In our initial trial heat – a test with no potentially biasing information preceding – Perry holds a 46% to 37% lead over Bill White, with 3% going to the Libertarian candidate and 14% Undecided.

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Not surprisingly, Perry holds a big edge in visibility at this early stage of the campaign; 21% have not heard of Bill White, while less than 1% are unfamiliar with Rick Perry.  That gap will certainly close by Election Day. 

The rest of the Perry numbers show some vulnerability.  The Governor’s job rating is only 43% positive, with 58% on the negative end of the scale (45% Only Fair and 13% Poor).  More significantly, in the re-elect question, which matches the incumbent against an unspecified “other”, Perry stands at 37%, while 48% would prefer “someone else in his place” and 15% are unsure.  This is not a strong foundation for an incumbent in what is anticipated to be an “anti-incumbent” year.

Of our survey respondents, 97% had voted in the 2008 general election, 78% had voted in 2006, and 51% had voted in a 2010 primary.

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