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Rasmussen Survey … Texas Republican Governor’s Race

At the beginning of the month, Perry lead 44% to Hutchison’s 29% and Medina’s 16%. In September, just after Hutchison traveled statewide to announce her candidacy for governor, she posted a 40% to 38% lead over Perry, but that was the high point of her support which has been declining ever since.

Early voting has already begun in the primary which wraps up on Tuesday. Turnout is often difficult to project for primaries, but among those who say they have already voted, Perry has earned 49% support, while Hutchison and Medina have picked up 24% and 20% respectively.

If the winning candidate fails to get 50% of the vote a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be held on April 13.

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Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Bill White still trails Perry and Hutchison in general election match-ups, but he’s drawn a little bit closer than he was a month ago.

Perry appears to have successfully portrayed Hutchison as a Washington insider at a time when voter unhappiness with politics in the nation’s capital is hurting incumbents nationwide. Medina seemed to be drawing support from Hutchison in the previous survey but stumbled this month in part because of a high-profile spat with Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck over her remarks suggesting there was an undisclosed conspiracy behind the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Perry, who is seeking an unprecedented third term as governor, carries the male voter by more than two-to-one over Hutchison and wins a plurality (45%) of the female vote as well.

The incumbent earns 56% of the conservative vote to Hutchison’s 22% and Medina’s 16%.

Conservatives dominate Republican primaries in Texas and nationally. But Perry also breaks even with Hutchison among GOP moderates.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Texas Republican voters approve of the job Perry is doing as governor, down eight points from the beginning of the month. But the new finding includes 23% who strongly approve, up five from the previous survey. Thirty-two percent (32%) disapprove of the job Perry is doing, including 15% who strongly disapprove.

The two front-runners remain popular with Texas Republicans, although their favorables are down from the previous survey. Perry is viewed favorably by 67%, including 24% with a very favorable opinion of him. Thirty-one percent (31%) hold an unfavorable view, with 12% very unfavorable.

For Hutchison, favorables total 56% and unfavorables 42%. These figures include 13% with a very favorable opinion and 12% with a very unfavorable one.

Just 35% now have a favorable view of Medina, the owner of a medical consulting firm. This includes nine percent (9%) with a very favorable regard for her. Forty-seven percent (47%) view her unfavorably, with 18% very unfavorable.

All three candidates have experienced double-digit drops in their favorables as the primary approaches. Just two percent (2%) express no opinion of Perry and Hutchison, while 18% still don’t know enough about Medina to venture even a soft favorable or unfavorable view of her.

Early in the contest, Hutchison indicated a willingness to quit the Senate to run for governor but ultimately never set a date for stepping down. In November, 57% of all voters in the state said Hutchison should stay in the Senate while running for her party’s gubernatorial nomination.

In another high-profile Republican Primary contest, Marco Rubio now holds an 18-lead over Governor Charlie Crist, 54% to 36%, in the race to be the GOP Senate nominee in Florida.

In 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected nationally that Obama would defeat John McCain by a 52% to 46% margin. Obama won 53% to 46%. Four years earlier, Rasmussen Reports projected the national vote totals for both George W. Bush and John Kerry within half-a-percentage-point.

In Texas, Rasmussen Reports polled on two races during the 2008 campaign. In the race for president, Rasmussen polling showed McCain leading Obama 54% to 44%. McCain won the state 55% to 44%. In the 2008 Senate race, Rasmussen polling showed John Cornyn leading Richard Noriega 55% to 40%. Cornyn won 55% to 43%.

In the 2006 race for U.S. Senate, Rasmussen polling showed Kay Bailey Hutchison winning 60% to 34% over Barbara Radnofsky. Hutchison won 62% to 36%. In that year’s race for governor, the final Rasmussen Reports poll showed Rick Perry leading a four-way race by 11 points with Perry at 36% and Chris Bell at 25%. Perry won by nine, 39% to 30%.

Rasmussen Reports also has released recent polls on the 2010 governor’s races in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.