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The Brief: Oct. 25, 2010

Gov. Rick Perry has reached that magic number in the latest Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll.

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Gov. Rick Perry has reached that magic number in the latest Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll.

Eight days out from Election Day, Perry's share of the vote sits at 50 percent, a number that — until recently — has consistently eluded the governor in polls conducted since the spring. Democrat Bill White is 10 points behind at 40 percent, while third-party candidates are capturing 10 percent of the vote, with Libertarian Kathie Glass at 8 percent and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto at 2 percent.

By Tribune/UT metrics, Perry has gained on White since September, when a UT/TT poll showed Perry leading White by 6 points, 39-33, with 22 percent undecided. In this poll, unlike last month's, those undecideds were pressed to say whom they'd vote for.

Jim Henson, a UT government professor at UT who oversees the poll, tells the Trib's Ross Ramsey that the numbers reflect a partisan alignment "in which the trends of Republican identification we've seen in the last few decades are being amplified by a broader national political environment favorable to Republican candidates." In other words, things are looking good for Republicans in Texas.

Furthering that argument, the poll shows Republicans still ahead of their Democratic opponents in every statewide race. And Texans are still by and large unhappy with President Barack Obama, whose approval rating sits at 35 percent.

The big question: Does White stand a chance of a comeback? And if so, how? The San Antonio Express News' Peggy Fikac asked three political experts, who generally agreed that he needs to keep fighting. As for Perry's next move? Hide, they say. 

Some other interesting, though perhaps not entirely unexpected, tidbits from the poll: 70 percent of regular Fox News watchers side with Perry. Among CNN and MSNBC fans, though, about 70 percent side with White and about 25 percent with Perry. White also shows similar pull — about 70 percent — with viewers of The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live.

CULLED:

  • The Houston Chronicle today looks toward Election Day with a look back, examining Rick Perry and Bill White's recent legacies. For White, his tenure as mayor of Houston brought significant accomplishments but left much unfinished business. Under Perry, the state's economy has fared relatively well, but the poor continue to struggle.
  • With the state budget shortfall now reported to total as high as $25 billion, the prospect of thousands of layoffs and deep cuts to crucial state programs is looking increasingly inevitable.
  • The fight over plans to build a massive, $5 billion electric transmission line through the Hill County — profiled last month by the Trib's Kate Galbraithwill descend on Austin today, with hearings expected to attract citizens, landowners and lots and lots of lawyers.
  • Bill Clinton will stump for U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz and other Democrats in Brownsville today, marking the former president's second outing for Texas D's this season following his recent rally for U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in San Antonio.

"It was just one of those crazy things. You can't believe in today's world that it happens, but it does."Rita Clements, on the possible death — and murder — of her stepson, Gil Clements, the son of former Texas Gov. Bill Clements

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