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The Brief: April 25, 2012

As Mitt Romney's grip on the Republican presidential nomination strengthened Tuesday, a new poll showed Texas voters finally coming around to him.

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The Big Conversation:

As Mitt Romney's grip on the Republican presidential nomination strengthened Tuesday, a new poll showed Texas voters finally coming around to him.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday showed Romney with 45 percent of the vote among Texas Republicans, followed by Newt Gingrich with 35 percent and Ron Paul with 14 percent. 

Though Romney's 10-point lead in Texas may seem somewhat slim given his virtual lock on the nomination, which he further solidified Tuesday with five primary wins in the Northeast, the former Massachusetts governor has gained significant ground in the state since mid-January, when polling from the same firm showed him just 1 point ahead of Gingrich, 24 percent to 23 percent. Romney's favorability ratings have also increased from 44 percent favorable-44 percent unfavorable to 66 percent favorable-23 percent unfavorable.

Romney also bested Obama in a hypothetical general-election matchup, 50 to 43 percent. But Obama led among Latinos, 56  to 34 percent, and young voters, 57 to 35 percent.

“Texas looks like it will remain Republican in the general election,” Tom Jensen, the firm's director, said in a news release. “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.”

Other interesting findings from the poll: Gov. Rick Perry appears to hurt, albeit slightly, Romney's chances in Texas. A Romney-Perry ticket would still draw 50 percent of the vote, but Obama's numbers would increase 2 points, to 45 percent, nearly within the margin of error. Ron Paul — who will appear at the University of Texas at El Paso today, UT-Austin on Thursday and the University of Houston on Friday — also tops Obama in a general-election matchup, 47 to 43 percent, but his favorability ratings stand at a relatively weak 37 percent positive-48 percent negative.

Culled:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today on Arizona's controversial immigration-enforcement law. Texas, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports, is among the states watching the high-profile proceedings closely. Court watchers have said the justices will likely rule on the case in June.
  • Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's U.S. Senate campaign will sharpen its attacks on Republican primary opponent Ted Cruz this week, releasing a short documentary and promoting it on the popular streaming video site Hulu. The two-and-a-half-minute video, as the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, features a Florida businessman who says a Chinese company stole his designs and hurt his business. Cruz is now representing the Chinese company, which lost to Fishman in an earlier trial.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice and other groups have asked a federal court to delay the scheduled July 9 trial in Texas' voter ID case, arguing that Attorney General Greg Abbott has held up requests for information from the state. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, the move may endanger the chances that the law, if approved, will be in place for the November elections.

"I love policy. I don't love politics. Running for politics has never been on my horizon. And I had to deal with Vladimir Putin and the Russians once. That's enough."Condoleezza Rice, whose name has again been floated as a possible vice presidential pick, on Tuesday at a conference on Fort Worth

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