David Dewhurst is obviously the biggest loser in the Texas Senate election tonight. When we first polled a hypothetical runoff match up between him and Ted Cruz the week before the primary, he led 59-34. In just over two months he managed to turn that into a pretty substantial defeat.
There's another big loser tonight though and it has major implications for Texas politics looking toward 2014: Rick Perry.
Our final pre-election poll on this race found that two times more Texas Republicans considered an endorsement from Rick Perry to be a negative than a positive. 35% said they were less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Perry, 15% said they were more likely to, and 50% said they didn't care either way. Dewhurst's choice to spotlight his support from Perry so heavily is curious against the backdrop of those numbers.
The result tonight provides real world evidence of something that we've been finding in our polling for a while now: that Perry's standing has been significantly diminished in Texas after his failed White House bid and that he could be in serious trouble if he tries for another term in 2014.
Here are some of the things we've found:
-Only 39% of Texas voters approve of the job Perry is doing to 53% who disapprove.
-Just 29% of voters think Perry should seek another term in 2014 to 64% who think he should not.
-He could find himself in trouble even in a primary election. In a hypothetical contest with Attorney General Greg Abbott, Perry leads only 50-34. Those are considerably weaker numbers than Dewhurst started out with.
Perry's shown himself to be a survivor before. He made up a big initial poll deficit against Kay Bailey Hutchison in the primary two years ago. But after tonight's results he certainly seems to be political damaged goods and it could make the road ahead for him politically very treacherous.