Hailey's Capitol Inside weighs in on Choctaw poll
Wed September 22, 2010 12:22 am

I posted an item about the Choctaw poll last Friday. [See "Gambling Poll Shows Perry +12"]. The poll was directed at Texans' attitudes towards gambling. It contained a single horserace question about the governor's race, along with crosstabs, which I published. A Democrat who is a longtime friend called me a "shill" (for Perry) for publishing it. The poll showed Perry ahead by twelve points, a larger margin than any other poll. Worse (for D's), it showed Perry leading White in Harris County by 50 to 37. I wrote that, if true, this result is a death sentence for White. Another reason for Democrats to attempt to undermine the credibility of the poll is that a principal of the polling firm (Fairbank Maslin, or FM3), which is well regarded and has a longtime presence in national politics, is Paul Maslin, who has represented several Texas Democrats, among them Bill White. The furor over the poll continues to rage, because Democrats insist that it oversampled Republicans. I sent an e-mail to Paul Maullin, the pollster, to ask about the issue of oversampling, and he responded with a defense of his methods, which he described as "stratified random sampling."

Today I was e-mailed Hailey's version by a Democrat, which Hailey likewise published last Friday. Hailey says that respondents 53% of the respondents self-identified as Republicans and 28% self-identified as Democrats, which would suggest that Republicans outnumber Democrats in this state by almost 2 to 1, which we all know is not true, even in this climate.

But what motivation would the pollsters have to arrange for a sample that included an unusually large number of Republicans? If you are doing a gambling survey, and you wanted to assure a favorable outcome, wouldn't you prefer to have a large number of Democrats, who are much more likely to be pro-gaming than Republicans are? Or was the horserace issue really the thing that the pollsters were being paid to find out, so that a large Republican sample would help Perry? I know this much: the Choctaws are very friendly with Perry, due to his anti-gambling stance. Hailey mentioned this in his writeup, and I was told it by a lobbyist with ties to the Chocktaws. Curiouser and curiouser. If Republicans really were two-thirds of the sample, then the poll doesn't have much credibility with me.

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