Articles by Eileen Smith
Mar 23, 2009 — By Eileen Smith
In Paul Burka's latest post, he questions the methodology behind the poll conducted by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project at UT. Here is their response, in full (courtesy of professors Jim Henson and Daron Shaw). In the Friday afternoon Texas Monthly podcast, in a post on his blog the following day, and in the comment fields following that entry, Paul Burka made a series of inaccurate characterizations of the poll released by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project last week. Consequently, we feel compelled to respond. In so doing, we hope to give Mr. Burka, readers of the blog, and the broader public a clearer idea of how the poll works. Mr. Burka’s skepticism concerning some of our results seems based on a combination of his misunderstanding of where our sample comes from and how we use the Internet to administer the survey. Let us begin by explaining our decision to conduct an online survey. Put another way, why didn't we just do another phone poll? In our view, the issues preventing effective online polling are receding while those plaguing traditional phone polling are becoming increasingly troublesome. In particular, phone polls have had lower response rates in recent years, which exacerbate widely recognized response biases. Weighting the data is the typical response, but how reliable are estimates when you have to weight low incidence populations (for example, young African American males) by a function of 8 or 12 or even 16? Perhaps more problematic is the spread of cell phone use and the decline of landlines. Finally, talking to people over the phone also places constraints on the sort of question frames and response options you can use; these problems are reduced or removed when you use the web.
Mar 10, 2009 — By Eileen Smith
Burka’s column from the April issue is online now, because the Internets is faster than the Magazine. Nothing defines the differences between the two political parties as sharply as their respective views over the integrity of the electoral process. Republicans are absolutely convinced that Democrats…