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The hottest topic in the crucial lieutenant governor’s race between Republican agriculture commissioner Rick Perry and Democratic state comptroller John Sharp is the reliability of the Scripps Howard–owned Texas Poll. When the March poll showed Sharp leading with 41 percent of surveyed voters to Perry’s 35 percent, R’s complained vigorously that D’s were oversampled. When the June poll showed Perry holding steady at 35 percent but Sharp dropping ten points, D’s complained vigorously that R’s were oversampled. Sharp’s decline did seem inexplicable, since it occurred during a slow season for politics, when the only event of note, the Texas Farm Bureau endorsement, went in Sharp’s favor. “John has been going around the state beating up on Rick, and it backfired,” says a Perry spokesman. “The Texas Poll has gone downhill,” counters a Sharp spokesman. “It’s a random sample,” insists Texas Poll director Ty Meighan. “It’s not our job to decide the exact numbers of Republicans and Democrats who get called.” Meighan adds that he’s intrigued that 12 percent of the people surveyed declined to identify themselves as Republican, Democrat, or independent and chose “other.” Maybe Ross Perot ought to think about running for lieutenant governor.