Republican Gov. Rick Perry holds a six-point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll conducted last week.
Of the 800 Texans who participated in the survey, 39 percent said they would vote for Perry and 33 percent said they would vote for White, the former mayor of Houston, if the election were held today. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed remain undecided with seven weeks left until the election.
Thirty-one percent of respondents consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. More than two-thirds of those back Perry, who has been governor since 2001 and is seeking a third full term in the Nov. 2 election.
"White has not yet faded and remains in striking distance of Perry," says University of Texas at Austin Government Professor Daron Shaw, who oversees the poll. "The downside for White is that Perry is up by 18 points among those who say they are extremely likely to vote. White needs a big turnout among young voters and minorities to be competitive."
When asked how they would rate Perry's job as governor, 40 percent of respondents say they approve while 42 percent disapprove.
But Perry is bolstered by the fact that the state generally elects Republican candidates and by his opposition to President Barack Obama and the federal government in a year when voters have demonstrated an anti-establishment mood, says James Henson, director of the university's Texas Politics Project, who also oversees the poll.
"There are a lot of people out there who are not ready to respond to a poll about who they're going to vote for," Henson says. "If you look at the breakdown, there are a lot of moderates and a lot of independents among the undecided."
The poll found that the Republicans running for other statewide offices have leads ranging from 10 to 17 points in their races and that Texans support generic Republican congressional candidates over Democrats 48 percent to 38 percent.
The poll was conducted from Sept 3-8 and has a margin of error of 3.46 percent.
This is the fourth in a series of online polls conducted jointly by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune. The results and methodology are available at the Texas Politics Project Web site this week. Additional results will be released throughout the week.