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Tight Texas poll numbers disputed

In the News
by Elise Hu   |   KVUE News

A new poll for the nonpartisan Texas Lyceum shows Democratic candidates gaining ground in Texas, but some are skeptical of the numbers.

Republicans rule in Texas—literally.

The hold every statewide elected office, the majority of congressional seats and those in the Texas Legislature.

“We’ve had more voters casting ballots for Republicans statewide for the last number of election cycles,” said Marc DelSignore, VP of Baselice and Associates, a Republican polling firm.

In fact, pollsters estimate Republicans enjoy a built-in eight point lead compared to Democrats in Texas.

So what then, of the recent Lyceum poll numbers? They show presidential candidate John McCain at 43 percent to Barack Obama’s 38 percent with a 3-point margin of error, and US Senator John Cornyn holding a two-point lead over challenger Rick Noriega—38 percent to 36 percent.

“If you’re a Republican or a Cornyn supporter, you probably don’t like this poll. So very quickly it devolves into a partisan argument,” said Ross Ramsey, who helped design questions and write the summary of the Lyceum survey.

The Texas Lyceum poll was intended to survey Texans’ attitudes on transportation issues.

The election questions were thrown in as extra. For the issue-based questions, one thousand adult Texas residents were surveyed, instead of likely voters.

The sample was pared down to a voting population for the election-based questions.

“This is just a quick look at where people’s heads are now, and in any poll you can argue that well they talked to the wrong people,” said Ramsey.

DelSignore makes that argument.

“These numbers primarily reflect the population at large in Texas, as opposed to the people we know that turnout and vote on a regular basis,” he said.

He and other Republican political consultants believe the poll is an outlier among others, which show Cornyn and McCain with comfortable double-digit leads.

“It’s not an accurate snapshot of what we consider to be the people who turnout to vote in Texas elections,” he said. “Is the poll sample wrong, or have people changed their minds? Are they sliding off the brand a little bit?” Ramsey said.

The most accurate read on the electorate won’t come from a poll. It will come from an actual vote count in November.



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