The Cowboy Has Staying Power

Conclusion:  As we intimated in our last note, Governor Rick Perry may have staying power, as recent polls suggest such.  Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval numbers continue to deteriorate, which is positive for a politician juxtaposed against him (like a cowboy from Texas for instance).


In politics events often lead to poll bounces, which are typically not sustainable.  The most recent and major example of this was the killing of Osama bin Laden, which was ordered by President Obama.  In response to this decisive and successful action, the President’s approval numbers jumped up fairly dramatically in the short term, to a positive 10-point spread on the Real Clear Politics poll on May 26th.  This peak, which occurred just over three weeks after bin Laden’s death, was to be short lived.  In fact, Obama’s approval numbers have been on a downward trajectory since late May.

Currently, President Obama’s ratings are hitting new lows in almost every major approval index.  The Real Clear Politics aggregate has Obama at its widest negative spread of his Presidency at -8.7, with 52.2 percent disapproving and 43.5 percent approving.  The most recent poll of Likely Voters by Rasmussen, which was taken in the three days ending August 31sthas Obama at a shocking -13, with 56 percent of those polled disproving of his performance.   

The Cowboy Has Staying Power - a. RCP

Interestingly, and in contrast to our point above about the short term benefits of one specific event in political polls, Governor Perry, who officially entered the race for the Republican nomination a few weeks ago, continues to poll very well.  In fact, the two most recent polls, Quinnipiac and CNN, have Perry ahead of Romney by 6 and 13 points, respectively.  Even more interesting, especially for we stock market operators, is the futures contracts on InTrade, which has Perry winning the nomination at 38% and ahead of Romney’s 30% probability. This market-oriented measure has steadily ticked higher since Perry announced his candidacy.

The Cowboy Has Staying Power - a. 2 Perry contract

The most interesting recent poll to be released is a Rasmussen poll that shows Perry beating President Obama by a margin of 44 – 41.  Obviously, this is both only one poll and also within the margin of error, so it doesn’t necessarily inform, yet, how Perry would do against the President head-to-head.   The noteworthy takeaway of this poll is that Perry fares better than any of his Republican peers in a hypothetical match up.  In fact, the next closest to Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, trails Obama by 43 – 39. 

Despite his favorable poll numbers, Perry’s most substantial competition may not be coming directly from his competitors or the Democratic party, but the Republican establishment.  There is the perception amongst many in the Republican party, especially the George W. Bush crowd, that Perry may be too extreme, too cavalier, and, yes, perhaps too much of a cowboy.  Certainly, Perry has made some outlandish statements at times, including his poor choice of words when recently criticizing Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, but he also is charismatic, has a successful electoral track record, has an enviable economic track record in Texas, and is very appealing to the Tea Party base.

As we think about Perry’s chances to attain the Presidency, we are reminded of the old John Wayne movie, “True Grit”, in which The Duke faces off against four gun men and yells, “Fill your hands you sonofaguns!”  We’ve attached a clip of the segment below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKThgLq21Rc

All references to John Wayne aside, the true test for Perry will be coming in September as he faces off against his Republican competitors in a series of debates.  If he can hold his own and articulate his views in an even handed fashion, the Cavalier Cowboy may be riding tall into the general election.

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research