It wasn’t that long ago when the Texas primary seemed to be a long shot for Mitt Romney. But with the former Massachusetts governor now firmly in control of the Republican presidential race, a new poll shows him out front in Texas.
According to a survey released today by Public Policy Polling, Romney is garnering the support of 45 percent of Texas Republican voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich follows with 35 percent, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson received 14 percent.
“If Newt Gingrich was going to win a big victory anywhere between now and the Republican convention, Texas would be the logical candidate ... but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” Tom Jensen, the director of Public Policy Polling, said in a news release.
Romney also came out on top in head-to-head polling with President Obama, with a 50 percent-43 percent advantage. Obama had more support among Latinos, leading Romney 56 percent-34 percent, and among young voters with a 57 percent-35 percent edge.
“Texas looks like it will remain Republican in the general election,” Jensen said. “This is not likely to be the year when Texas goes Democratic, but the trends with [Hispanics and young voters] make it seem possible that it will happen someday.”
Romney's lead became smaller when those surveyed were asked about a GOP ticket with Gov. Rick Perry as the vice presidential candidate. Romney's lead over Obama was then 50 percent-45 percent.
Paul did not fare well among Texas Republican voters in the poll. Only 37 percent of Texas Republicans have a favorable opinion of him, while 48 percent view him negatively.
“Ron Paul [is] headed for an embarrassing performance in his home state,” Jensen said. “His chances of hitting 20 percent, even with most of the rest of the field out of the picture, look minimal.”
Jensen added that the poll reflects a clear trend of Republicans coalescing around Romney.
“Texas really shows the extent to which GOP voters have unified around Romney over the last few weeks,” said Jensen, noting that January polls showed that 44 percent of Texas Republicans rated Romney favorably and 44 percent rated him poorly. “Now his favorability is a 43+ spread at 66-23. That’s very much indicative of people jumping on board the train.”
According to Jensen, Romney is winning the support of Tea Party voters over Gingrich by a 44 percent-38 percent margin, but losing the support of evangelicals to Gingrich by a 45 percent-40 percent spread.
“That’s indicative of those voters being somewhat tepid towards Romney,” Jensen explained. “While there’s little chance those folks would go for Barack Obama in the fall, Romney does need to worry at least a bit about whether they’re going to come out at all.”
“Strong might not be the word to describe Mitt Romney’s position in Texas,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “Voters in the state don’t like him all that much. But he’s still the favorite for both the primary and general elections.”
Public Policy Polling surveyed 591 Texas voters from April 19-22, as well as 400 Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the overall survey was +/- 4 percentage points, and +/- 4.9 percentage points for the GOP survey. The poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.