In the old South -- and rural Texas is definitely part of the old South -- poke can be found in salad (as in poke weed), or it can be a bag or sack (as in “buying a pig in a poke”), or it can be a teasing comment intended to get a rise out of the “pokee.”
Those born and raised outside the old South may not understand the concept of a humorous “poke” at a rival or friend, and the importance of a “poke” in political discourse.
Recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry has been poking President Obama and his establishment media supporters about Obama’s birth certificate. Perry noted that Donald Trump doesn’t think Obama’s birth certificate is real, and has said he didn't know what Obama's publicly released birth certificate says, but he is willing to release his own birth certificate.
Perry also said that, while the birth certificate issue is a distraction, it is fun "to poke" the president on the birthplace issue.
In politics, a poke is intended to separate the blue-nosed gentry (who take the poke seriously or are too dignified to poke back) from the good ol' boys who pride themselves on returning the poke. Voters assess the candidates on the basis of how quickly and humorously the poke is returned, and vote accordingly.
Perry’s poke on Obama’s birth certificate has had the desired effect. Obama has ignored it and the blue-nosed gentry of the Republican establishment, such as Jeb Bush and Karl Rove, have all risen like cussed-out Sunday school teachers to chastise Perry. In the mean time, conservative voters in the upcoming primaries have been reminded that there’s only one good ol' boy running who gets the joke, and that’s Rick Perry.