A few days back, our own Lori Stahl wrote about Texas Gov. Rick
Perry’s graceful exit from the presidential race and wondered whether it might have opened an opportunity for him to begin a process of mending fences back home. But most fences in the Lone Star State are made out of barbed wire and it turns out her fellow Texans are not in any mood to let bygones be bygones.
At least, not yet.
A new poll out today, which was commissioned by the state’s leading newspapers, finds that Perry’s job approval in the reddest of red states is now lower than—are you ready for this—President Obama’s. Only 40 percent of Texans like the job that Perry is doing, a figure that has dropped 10 points over the past year. By comparison, Obama’s approval is 43 percent.
What seems to have made Perry’s national bellyflop so unforgivable to many Texans is the fact that he took the state’s reputation along with him. The main premise of his campaign was that the rest of the country was dying to share in the “Texas miracle.”
State pride is central to Texans’ identity, and fully 45 percent now believe the rest of the country thinks less of Texas in the wake of Perry’s gaffe-prone candidacy.
Two years ago, Perry won an impressive re-election battle, first against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the primary, and then against Houston Mayor Bill White. Now, more than half of Texans say they don’t want him to run for a fourth term.
All of which goes back to the question of why Perry decided to run for president in the first place. He never seemed to have his heart in it. But many in his party—not to mention, his wife—thought he was the perfect fit for the GOP electorate in this turbulent year.
The good news for Perry is that he still has two years left in his term, which is plenty of time to make amends. Or maybe to figure out whether he wants to do something else.