This is my response to the post, below, of the government professors who operate the UT Poll. I have no desire to get into a verbal wrestling match with Professors Henson and Shaw. I have spoken to both of them, in person and by telephone, and I respect their work and what they are trying to accomplish. They are entitled to run a poll the way the want to run it, and I am entitled to give my opinion of its worth. 1. In my opinion, Internet polling is not a proven methodology. In particular, Zogby's Internet polls are useless. There are too many things about Internet polling that are eccentric. Would you put more faith in a poll of registered voters if you determined a person's status from an Internet interview or from a voter registration list? Internet polling does not use interviews. It locates participants. 2. I did not write about the part of the poll that involved the U.S. Senate race. The poll presented participants with brief biographies of selected candidates. How in the world could the pollsters control for bias? If this is not a push poll, it is certainly a cousin.
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.
The following e-mail went out to Republican activists, consultants, and Washington media types over the name of Perry campaign guru Dave Carney. Among the recipients were consultant Arthur Finkelstein, representatives of the Club for Growth, Washington Post columnist Chris Cizzilla, and prominent Patton Boggs attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, who represented the Bush campaign in legal maneuvering over the Florida recount in 2000. Subject: Hutchison Team Quiet About New Poll The only thing positive that the Hutchison campaign has had to talk about since getting in the Governor's race last year has been public poll numbers showing her with a sizable lead. (Like many of the elite they confuse popularity with electability.) Well today that came to an end and not surprisingly the Hutchison campaign has gone silent. Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News yesterday reported, "Asked who they'd vote for it the primary were today, 36 percent of registered likely GOP voters said Hutchison, 30 percent for Perry. A quarter say they remain undecided -- a huge number. The survey was conducted Feb. 24-March 6. The margin of error is 5.7 percent -- which means the results are effectively a tossup. The poll was conducted by the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project at UT. That is in sharp contrast to the polls showing her with a 25 point lead before she announced her candidacy. This follows her anemic fundraising performance during the first reporting period of the campaign where she raised less then $32,000. In contrast over the same time period Governor Perry raised more than $1,000,000. Couple all that with these two articles that came out today and it’s been a bad first few months for Senator Hutchison's fledging campaign. [end of release] Click here for the link to the first article and here for the link to the second. A couple of comments: