The presidential polls being what they are, I figured it would cheer up Trump fans to flog one of their Republican enemies for awhile. Which, come to think of it, also seems to be Trump’s strategy for the remainder of the campaign.

No matter how bad things get in October, you can count on the big guy to have some quality new material about “Lyin’ Ted” at his rallies.

A new poll suggests there is at least one fellow Republican who could unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018: Rick Perry.

The former Texas governor would beat Cruz by 9 percentage points, according to the forthcoming survey from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling. Set to be released later today, the poll found Perry would get 46 percent of the vote and Cruz 37 percent, with 18 percent saying they are not sure whom they would support…

In general, the poll shows Texas Republicans want Cruz to be their candidate for Senate again in 2018 — but not overwhelmingly. Fifty percent said they would like Cruz to be the nominee, while 43 percent said would like someone else to carry the banner.

Cruz would easily defeat two lesser-known challengers, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Rep. Mike McCaul, but that may be a function of pure name recognition. Perry, a two-time presidential candidate and three-term governor, doesn’t have that problem. Not only does he lead Cruz by nine overall, he’s actually significantly ahead among Republicans, 49/35. (Cruz wins by eight among independents.) In fact, against Patrick and McCaul Cruz is polling right around the 50 percent mark, meaning that in theory either challenger could make the race competitive as they become better known.

How’s Perry doing it? Simple. He’s considerably more popular right now among GOPers than Cruz is, no doubt due to Cruz’s non-endorsement of Trump at the convention. Once you include Democrats (who view Perry and Cruz unfavorably to an almost equal degree), Cruz’s overall approval rating is upside-down in his home state:

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Perry’s favorable rating among Republicans is 74/17. John Cornyn’s approval rating, by comparison to Cruz’s, is 34/31 overall and 55/16 among Republicans. Even all of that could conceivably be spun to Cruz’s benefit by noting that, however he may stack up against other Texans, at least he’s still more popular there than Trump is. Texans might not have appreciated a pointed show of disloyalty in Cruz’s speech, but “bad soldier for the party” doesn’t necessarily mean a preference for Trump over Cruz.

This result, however, does pretty much mean that. Et tu, Texas?

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That’s a remarkable result given that Cruz won the Texas primary by 17 points and doubtless would have crossed 50 percent had Marco Rubio not been in the race at the time. You could dismiss it, I guess, by assuming that people must have interpreted the question as asking if they’d prefer to replace Trump with Cruz today, with less than three months until Election Day. That transition would be so chaotic, with Cruz caught flat-footed, that you’d be better off sticking with Trump and hoping that he figures out a way to make magic. Even so, this poll was conducted less than a week ago, with the news overflowing with stories about national polls showing Trump in the toilet. At the height of panic about the GOP nominee, when asked whether they’d have Trump or the native Texan who won the state going away five months ago, Texans choose … Trump, by 17 points? Geez. Note to self: Apparently, there are few things more alienating that you can say to Republican voters than “vote your conscience.”

Anyway, this will all settle down and Cruz will win re-election easily. I think.

There’s no way Rick Perry runs unless he’s been fully assimilated into the Trump borg and is planning to take out Cruz to avenge his leader. Perry would never go full Trump. Would he?