Polls Apart
Mon July 24, 2006 5:28 pm

Chris Bell is touting the first poll to show him running second in the governor's race. The July Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll has Perry in front with 38.3 percent, Bell second with 20.8 percent, Kinky third with 20.7 percent, and Strayhorn trailing with 11 percent. I am dutifully reporting these polls but remain skeptical of their methodology, especially those that are essentially surveys.

Here is how Zogby explains its methodology:
"These polls were conducted by Zogby International. Online polls were conducted by the company's Zogby Interactive unit. Phone polls were conducted by Zogby International.

"Zogby Interactive of Utica, N.Y. has assembled a database of individuals who have registered to take part in online polls through solicitations on the company's Web site as well as other Web sites that span the political spectrum. Individuals who registered were asked to provide personal information such as home state, age and political party to Zogby."

"Zogby International telephoned about 2% of respondents who completed the interactive survey to validate their personal data. To solicit participation, Zogby sent emails to individuals who had asked to join its online-polling database, inviting them to complete an interactive poll. Many individuals who have participated in Zogby's telephone surveys also have submitted e-mail addresses so they may take part in online polls.

"The Interactive polls were supplemented by 20 to 50 telephone calls in 19 states (AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, MD, MI, MO, NV, NM, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA, WI) to ensure proper representation of all demographic groups.

"Margins of error for each candidate vary by state and range between 3.2 and 4.4 percentage points. Margins for specific states are available on the state panels."

Hmm. A database of individuals who have registered to take part in online polls through solicitations on the company's Web site doesn't strike me as a random sample. Nor do I see any mention of screening for registered voters or likely voters. Granted, the poll doesn't seem to be far off the mark. Perry continues to hover around 40%. Bell and Kinky, both of whom have constituencies, figure to be around 20%. Strayhorn hasn't come out of the starting gate well and I'm not surprised to see her lagging a little. This early in the campaign, the anti-Perry vote is still fluid.

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