Rick Perry has an under water approval rating in Texas and he's leading Barack Obama by a smaller margin than John McCain won the state by in 2008...but at least he is leading Obama, which is more than he could say the last time we polled the state.
45% of Texas voters approve of the job Perry is doing to 48% who disapprove. Those aren't good numbers but they do represent improvement from a June PPP poll of the state when Perry was at 43/52. The better numbers are attributable to Republicans really rallying around him. He was at 73/21 with them before but now it's 78/14. He continues to be very unpopular with independents though (32/61) and even in a state that still has a lot of conservative Democrats his crossover support is virtually nonexistent with just 13% of voters approving of him across party lines. The numbers with independents are particularly troublesome for Perry- if that's where he is with swing voters where they know him best, can he expect to do well with those folks in key swing states like Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia?
Perry leads Obama in a head to head 51-44. Those aren't terribly impressive numbers given that John McCain defeated Obama by 12 points in the state, but they do at least represent an improvement for Perry since June when he actually trailed the President 47-45. Perry polls the best of any of the Republicans in Texas- Mitt Romney leads Obama by 6 points at 47-41, Ron Paul's up by a single point at 43-42, and Obama actually leads Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann by 46-45 and 45-43 margins respectively.
Obama's approval rating in Texas is only 40% with 55% of voters disapproving of him. Most notable is that only 2% of Republicans give him good marks to 95% unhappy with his job performance- it's hard to recover from that no matter how well you do with Democrats and independents in a state where the plurality of voters identify with the GOP.
There are a couple things keeping him from getting completely crused in the state though. One is the Hispanic vote- he's up 28 points on Perry, 35 on Romney and Paul, 43 on Bachmann, and 45 on Gingrich with those voters. In the case of Perry that margin is equal to what Obama won Hispanics by in Texas in 2008 and with the others it's a wider spread. This is one state anyway where he is not slipping with Latino voters.
The other thing helping Obama stay somewhat close in Texas is that, like in most places, voters just aren't responding very positively to the Republican alternatives to him. Beyond Perry's poor approval numbers Romney's favorability is a net -17 (32/49), Paul's is -25 (29/54), Gingrich's is -27 (29/56), and Bachmann's is -28 (27/55). With Obama's approval numbers what they are he should probably be trailing the entire Republican field by double digits. But he's not because of the unpopularity of the GOP candidates themselves.
Texas is probably a pipe dream for Democrats next year, especially given the overall national political climate. But the numbers here still show some things Republicans should be worried about- the fact that the voters who know Perry best don't like him, and that Hispanics continue to support Obama overwhelmingly.
Full results here