The call had to do with my post yesterday (“Was the Hutchison poll phony?”) in which I expressed my concern about whether their poll, which the campaign has said showed them two points down, was on the level. Obviously, the campaign was none too happy about what I wrote, and in retrospect I think the snark factor was excessive, even for blogging. After we got the “pleasantries” out of the way, they offered to share some information with me. The main reason for my doubts, as I wrote, were the differences between the campaign poll and the Rasmussen poll, which reinforced previous polls about the race. I was also dubious about the 26% of the electorate that was said to be undecided. This seems like a very large number in a race in which 88% of the vote (Perry 43%, Hutchison 33%, Medina 12%) is already accounted for. Today I met with a representative of the campaign. The representative showed me some numbers, which I will pass along to readers. As I have said repeatedly in the comments section in response to readers who have questioned the accuracy of polls that I have reported on, I am not the local Honda dealer. I don’t give warranties, or a “CR Recommended” rating from Consumer Reports. Readers can judge the credibility of the information for themselves. Caveat emptor. 1. The Hutchison campaign, like most campaigns, does polling on a small scale as well as on a large scale, polls that are snapshots in time. I saw the results of some of these polls, graphed and printed. They show that since January 3, Hutchison has trailed Perry by no more than 3 points and has led by no more than 2 points. 2. One of the things discussed during the call was the accuracy of the Rasmussen poll, which has been my “control” for polls about the race. I pointed out that Rasmussen and SurveyUSA, the robocall polls, did the best job of calling the 2004 election. The Hutchison folks pointed out that Rasmussen is the only pollster who had Scott Brown losing in Massachusetts. (This was before the polls closed.) Sure enough, Rasmussen called it wrong. 3. The Hutchison campaign has done polling about the debate. This is what they came up with: –21.7% of the primary electorate viewed the debate –39.1% thought Medina won –16.9% thought Hutchison won –15.5% thought Perry won –14.4% thought Perry and Hutchison tied –14.1% were undecided None of these numbers seem implausible to me, though the viewership seems quite high for a gubernatorial primary debate. Maybe people are just very interested in politics right now. 4. How people watching the debate would vote: –34.5% Hutchison –29.2% Perry –22+% Medina Including the bounce for Medina, this seems credible as well. 5. Will the undecideds vote? –84% certain to vote –13% probably will vote 84% “certain” seems off-the-charts high, but the Hutchison folks believe turnout will be between 1.3 and 1.5 million. 6. Importance of primary to undecided voters (1 lowest, 10 highest) = 8.4. * * * * I did not see any documentation relating to the Voter Consumer Research poll that I had so unkindly written about. Some will find that conclusive. I still have doubts about its accuracy, but I am going to drop the issue of its bona fides. We did discuss the undecided vote at length. It seems to be the heart of the issue concerning the poll’s accuracy, and the Hutchison campaign’s view is that interest is very high and voters are in the process of making up their minds. Yesterday (Tuesday), was exactly four weeks before the start of early voting. The race really begins now. The Hutchison campaign says that whatever viewers have seen on TV up until now, they will see 3X the rest of the way. Politics in America is extremely volatile right now, and there is no reason to think that Texas is immune. The meteoric rise of Medina is proof of that. Her presence in the race guarantees that there will be a runoff. Hutchison’s TV has put some nicks and bruises on Perry, but the hard part still lies ahead—persuading voters that the criticisms justify firing him. She is still a long way from closing that deal. As for Perry, he is running on his record of job creation and the state’s fiscal health. Hutchison and Medina exposed some chinks in his arguments during the first debate, and there is still the problem that a lot of people just don’t like him. Perry remains the favorite, but he is fighting a two-front war and Bill White is raking in the dough while Perry is in the trenches. There’s a long way to go.
Politics & Policy