Bill White has his work cut out for him. Between now and November he must find a way to become the first democratic governor of Texas in 20 years. The odds certainly seem to be stacked against him.
For one thing, Rick Perry is an incumbent. That alone makes for an uphill fight for White. Perry’s maneuvering to align himself early with the Tea Party will probably help him steal Debra Medina supporters away from White. And let’s face it: Texas is a thoroughly red state.
This election is going to be a referendum on President Obama and the federal government; that was made abundantly clear in the primaries. All Perry had to do was cast Kay Bailey Hutchison as a “Washington creature” and watch the votes roll in.
Consider this chart from the Washington Post on the relation between presidential approval ratings and unemployment:
That was Reagan, now here’s Clinton:
Seeing a pattern? Basically when people are out of work, they don’t like the job the president is doing; when they have a job, they do.
Unlucky for Bill White, he shares a party with the president. Simply sharing a town with Obama was enough to do Hutchison in against Perry. And to say President Obama is unpopular in Texas is an understatement. According to a recent Public Policy Polling Survey, 2 out of 3 Texans are dissatisfied with the job Obama is doing, and only 19 percent of independents approve of his job performance.
What White will have to do is a) distance himself from Obama; b) go after Perry’s non-sequitur claim that he is responsible for Texas’ economy being in better shape than other states; c) convince Texas voters that he can improve the job market in the state. As the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday, new health care legislation could result in $400 billion in economic activity coming to Texas. That is precisely the kind of statistic Bill White will have to play up and spin unpopular Big Brother issues into positives for Texans’ wallets.
The ugly, secret undercurrent of every election-time issue is money: how is this issue going to affect the voter’s bankroll? If it’s immigration, how are you going to keep someone else from doing my job for less, thereby causing me to lose business and therefore money? If it’s health care, how are you going to keep my costs down and save me money? If it’s government spending, how are you going to keep taxes down and let me keep my money? Like Deep Throat said, you have to follow the money.
Two weeks ago political analyst Charlie Cook changed his evaluation of the Texas governor race from favoring Perry to a “tossup” between him and White, citing among other factors White’s Hispanic lieutenant governor choice and his ability to fundraise. Why Cook thinks that makes the race a tossup is beyond me. Regardless, it’s too early to predict; too much is going to happen nationally between now and November.
Bill White is said to be a man with strong Christian faith. That’s good- he should start praying.