Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
Annnndddd the race between Cruz and O’Rourke is…still all over the damn place. – A polling group that calls itself Vox Populi came out with a poll in the Texas senate race on Thursday, showing Ted Cruz and Irish Bob O’Rourke tied at 50-50 in the race. In its sample, Vox Populi included 39% Republicans and 36% Democrats, a sample that the group apparently feels is reflective of the Texas voter population.
Think about that for a minute. Texas is a state in which no Democrat has won a statewide election in 24 years. Not one. It is a state in which Republicans prevailed in the statewide elections four years ago by about 15-20 points each. It is a state in which the GOP voter turnout in the primaries earlier this year exceeded Democrat primary turnout by a whopping 50%, even though the Democrats had close contested races for the governor’s race and several other statewide offices.
Does that sound like a 39-36 state to you? I’m picking on Vox Populi, but the reality is that their sample is pretty typical of the samples being taken in polling in Texas this year. It is instructive to note that, four years ago, Texans were being treated to an array of polls about this time in the race pretending to show that Democrat Wendy Davis was a serious threat to Republican Greg Abbott in the governor’s race. Abbott won that race by 21% of the vote.
In fairness to Vox Populi, the group does say it applies a complex weighting method to its sampling, including this passage: “These screens significantly improve how reflective the sample is to the actual target voting population. Finally, Pop Polling weights survey results based on projected voter demographics. We do not weight on partisan affiliation or identification, helping reduce the risk of any bias during our analysis process.” Ok, cool, this is pretty common practice, but does it really inspire public confidence to know that, after the interviews have been conducted, the group goes in and monkeys around with the results? Maybe it does – who knows for sure? But if you’re going to apply this complex weighting method after the surveys are complete, why not just conduct more surveys and then stratify your sample via random eliminations in the various demographic groups to the breakdowns you want once that is done?
Also on Thursday, a new Public Policy Polling poll pegged the race at a 48-45 lead for Sen. Cruz. That poll surveyed 40% Rs and 35% Ds. So, that’s a little better, but is it really reflective of how Texas voters vote? This PPP poll was conducted on behalf of a pro-Obamacare activist group. So perhaps this one is a case of the polling group engaging in a little confirmation bias for its sponsor. Or maybe not – who knows?
For a third data point, you have the Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week that shows Cruz leading by 54-45. Quinnipiac unfortunately does not reveal the poll’s breakdown between Rs and Ds, but by extrapolating backwards from the results, it looks like it was right at 8-9% more Rs than Ds, a much more reasonable reflection of how Texans actually vote.
So, what you end up with is a confusing mish-mash of differing methodologies producing wildly different results, yet with all of them claiming to have just a 3-4% margin of error. Embarrassing, for the whole polling industry.
Meanwhile, over in BLUE WAAAAAAAVVVVVEEE country… – We also have an interesting new poll in Texas Congressional District 32, in which incumbent Pete Sessions is supposedly facing a tough re-election challenge. This poll, conducted by Siena College, shows Sessions holding a 52-44 lead over his Democrat opponent.
This one’s interesting because this is a seat the Democrats pretty much have to win in order to gain a majority in the House of Representatives in November, and previous polling in CD 32 have indicated the race was tight. My view is that this race is reflective of what is going to happen all over Texas and really the rest of the country as Election Day grows closer.
As I’ve pointed out several times in the past, my view is that the best way to predict what is going to happen in any election is to judge the overall mood of the public. Every election has an overriding inertia that serves to move the public in one direction or another on Election Day. The overriding mood in 2016 was for major change, and we ended up with the most major change results in modern times.
The trend we are likely to see this year is that voters who make up their minds late in the game in this particular election are going to overwhelmingly decide to preserve the status quo in their state or district, wherever that may be. Why? Because, to quote James Carville, it’s the economy, stupid. And the economy is roaring.
Despite all the daily hysteria brought to you by the fake news media, extraordinarily good economic news comes out on almost a daily basis. In such times, late-deciding voters are going to take a look around their neighborhoods and see all those people who collected unemployment for the 8 years of Barack Obama getting up and going to work in the morning. They’re going to see the new car in their neighbor’s garage, and the new refrigerator in their own kitchen. They’re going to see that the balance in their 401(k) plan is 25% higher than it was 2 years ago. They’re going to see all those cranes building that new manufacturing plant on the outskirts of their city.
They’re going to look around and see all of those real, tangible things that are taking place in their communities and think, “hey, maybe this isn’t the time to go vote for some guy who wants to eliminate ICE and take my guns away. Maybe ol’ Ted isn’t so bad after all.”
This is a status quo election. There is no “Blue Wave” coming.
That is all.
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