President Obama defeated Senator John McCain by about 7% points in 2008. While it is possible that some of Obama’s 2008 supporters will not vote in 2012 and some number of Republicans who didn’t vote in 2008 will vote in 2012, the odds of these changes alone being enough to sink the President’s re-election prospects are non-existent. Therefore a considerable number of people who voted for President Obama would need to vote for a Republican for the Republican to win. Here are some quick facts that make me doubt Rick Perry’s ability to produce that change of allegiance.
1. Five years ago 61% of Texans voted to make someone else Governor.
2. In last year’s primary 49% % of Texas Republicans voted to make someone else Governor.
3. Of all Governors races in 2010, Rick Perry improved on the McCain percentage by the 8th smallest margin and only improved by a net of 2 points [Perry's support was nearly identical to McCain's and the Democrat Bill White received 2% less than Obama]
4. 62% of Texans Hispanics voted for President Obama in 2008, and 61% voted for Bill White in 2010.
5. Based on a best guess of who voted in 2008 versus 2010, it is likely that less 5% and maybe as few as 2% of Obama voters voted for Perry in 2010, counterbalancing that there were an almost equal number of McCain voters who voted for White. [For what it is worth the Exit poll said 12% of self reporting Obama supporters voted for Perry and 10% of McCain supporters voted for White, my guess is a precinct analysis would come up with smaller numbers.]
Winning races in Texas by divide and conquer is not nearly the same thing as being able to win a national race if Obama retains his strong minority support and is able to maintain the white voters who voted for both him and John Kerry, he becomes very difficult to beat. If he can get even half of the white Gore voters who went to Bush in 2004, he becomes nearly impossible to beat. Nothing in Rick Perry’s electoral past in Texas suggests he ever got a single white Kerry or Gore voter, and his minority performance never exceeded what would be expected from a generic Republican given the year. While he may exceed expectations, none of this great campaigner stuff should faze Democrats at all. Past performance is a Perry weakness not strength.