The insiders have Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential race in Texas. Asked who'll win here, 43 percent are betting on the former senator and 38 percent are betting on the former governor. Newt Gingrich was the pick of 11 percent, and native son Ron Paul got just 1 percent.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is the overwhelming favorite of the insiders in the Republican race for U.S. Senate, collecting 84 percent to Ted Cruz's 14 percent. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert was the choice of 2 percent and 1 percent chose don't know as their answer. These choices on the list (from the roster of filed candidates, in case you're seeing a name or two for the first time) got zeroes: Glenn Addison, Joe Agris, Curt Cleaver, Ben Gambini, Charles Holcomb, Craig James, Lela Pittenger, and "another Republican candidate".
Most of the government and political insiders — 68 percent — think the Tea Party has too much influence on the GOP. Five percent chose "too little" and 22 percent said it's just about right.
Overwhelmingly, the insiders said the people they know would vote for a Mormon candidate who agrees with them on the issues. Only 9 percent said no.
As always, we have attached the full list of verbatim comments; a sampling, and a list of this week's respondents, follows:
If the 2012 Republican primary election for President were held today, which of the following candidates do you think would win the GOP Primary in Texas?
• "Every dog gets his day, and this one's Santorum's. But in June, who knows?"
• "Santorum is the last conservative still standing in the GOP primary."
• "Gingrich has gone cold, Romney is still lukewarm and Santorum is the hot ticket right now."
• "I have given up trying to figure out what the R's want"
• "Santorum's got the edge with the God/guns/gays voters that weigh so heavily in our GOP primaries, but the D crossover vote could negatively impact him."
• "Wouldn't be Romney. Would be the right wing flavor of the month."
• "Santorum is in line with Texas conservatives, but would mean defeat for GOP vs. Obama"
• "Texans want to vote for a winner. This year, that person is Romney."
If the 2012 Republican primary election for U.S. Senator were held today, which of the following possible candidates do you think would win the GOP Primary in Texas?
• "Dewhurst has too much money, name id and record with the voting public to not be the chosen one."
• "Cruz and Leppert are hoping for a run off with Dewhurst, but at the end of the day it's Dewhurst's to lose."
• "The movement conservative activists may be enamored with Cruz right now, but the 2010 primary for Texas Railroad Commission demonstrated once again that GOP rank and file primary voters still won't vote for a Latino surname."
• "The only thing Dewhurst has is money, and lots of personal money to buy this election, but Cruz will get out the Tea Party vote and surprise a lot of people. Since there isn't a set date for the primary, Cruz has plenty of time to pick up more endorsements and votes. Time's ticking away Dewhurst!"
• "However, in West Texas, voters may scratch out Craig James and write in Mike Leach."
• "I see a massive stimulus package for Texas TV stations coming from our lieutenant governor."
Do you think the Tea Party movement has too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence in the Republican Party?
• "If one looks at the overall impact the Tea Party movement has with voters, it is marginal. Their influence resides in dictating the dialogue and perception."
• "They are a small but vocal minority of the Republican Party and are perceived as having influence when in reality whatever influence they have is minimal."
• "Too much Influence and too little understanding of state government fiscal conditions."
• "The longer the Texas primary is delayed the more influence the tea party will have."
• "The movement has lost some juice, but many Republican officeholders remain terrified of it."
• "Anyone who believes this state delivers too many services is living in an ideological fantasyland."
• "Only a manifestation of the larger and increasingly prevalent phenomenon: the true believers run the political parties. A sad commentary on our times."
• "Too much influence on policy relative to electoral standing during the session, but they have not seemed that much in evidence of late."
Do you think most people you know would vote for a Mormon presidential candidate if they agreed with him or her on the issues?
• "People will say one thing in public, and do something completely different in the voting booth."
• "People I know would, but then I don't personally know those in the nut faction."
• "Mormon is NOT the issue with Romney, but his LIBERAL record is. Most of my friends like Mormons and consider them good people, but Romney's record defies the faith he espouses."
• "Yes. What's that saying? 'Better to be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian'? I think that holds true for most people in metropolitan areas."
• "Most people I know would, but I don't think the majority from my rural Texas home town will be as open minded."
• "Would most people I know vote for a presidential candidate if they believed burning bushes talked?"
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Mike Barnett, Walt Baum, Leland Beatty, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Jay Brown, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Thure Cannon, Snapper Carr, Corbin Casteel, William Chapman, Elizabeth Christian, Elna Christopher, Rick Cofer, John Colyandro, Harold Cook, Randy Cubriel, Hector De Leon, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Craig Enoch, Alan Erwin, Ryan Erwin, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Terry Frakes, Wil Galloway, Norman Garza, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, John Greytok, Anthony Haley, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Sandy Haverlah, Albert Hawkins, Adam Haynes, Susan Hays, Ken Hodges, Billy Howe, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Ramey Ko, Sandy Kress, Tim Lambert, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Bryan Mayes, Dan McClung, Parker McCollough, Mike McKinney, Robert Miller, Lynn Moak, Bee Moorhead, Steve Murdock, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Bill Pewitt, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Royce Poinsett, Kraege Polan, Jerry Polinard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Andrea Rado, Bill Ratliff, Kim Ross, Jason Sabo, Luis Saenz, Mark Sanders, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Steve Scurlock, Bradford Shields, Patricia Shipton, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Jason Stanford, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Charles Stuart, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Russ Tidwell, Trent Townsend, Trey Trainor, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Wilt, Seth Winick, Alex Winslow, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.