Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Remaining cowardly (Perry as well as the state media)

This ad calls the governor out yet again -- and since it no longer contains that word that offends the Houston Chronicle's Jack Sweeney, it appears in that newspaper, and 40 others across the state.

“Rick Perry again proved what a coward he is by stiffing Texans and skipping out of Sunday’s gubernatorial debate. With a looming $21 billion budget deficit and the recent scandals showing Perry’s willingness to sell out our state government to campaign donors, it’s no wonder he’s afraid to face the people of Texas.

“Texans are tired of long-time career politicians like Rick Perry, who hides from voters in his $10,000-per-month taxpayer-funded rental mansion and refuses to be held accountable for his record.

It's a remarkable list of of accomplishment, isn't it?

There's yet another media poll out today ...

With election night now less than a month away, the new KHOU-Belo Texas Poll shows incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry is backed by half of all surveyed Texas voters; indicating he has built a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Bill White.

The poll shows Perry is supported by 50 percent of surveyed voters, compared to White's 36 percent.  Another 9 percent of voters were undecided, while Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass picked up 3 percent. 

Perry has led almost every poll conducted during this campaign, though not always by such a wide margin. But the governor breaking the 50 percent barrier in an independent statewide poll is a dramatic development in a campaign in which even White himself concedes he's the underdog.

The survey indicates Perry's support is not only wider than White's, it's also deeper.  Pollsters at Public Strategies Inc., the Austin-based firm that conducted the study,  suggested that Perry is ahead, not only because Republicans outnumber Democrats, but also because they're more likely to vote this November.  

That's an inevitability narrative. Too bad the poll is even more seriously flawed than last week's. Matt Angle at the Lone Star Project released this statement to the press earlier this afternoon:

The recent poll commissioned by Belo and reported by KHOU Channel 11 in Houston and WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas, however, appears to be distorted to the point that it should not be considered an accurate measure of the current political atmosphere in Texas. Specifically:

*The interview “screen” used to determine which individuals to include in the poll distorts the make up of the voter sample to the point that it cannot be an accurate reflection of the likely make-up of the 2010 General Election electorate in Texas. Typically, those surveyed in political polls are asked the question, “Are you likely to vote in the next general election?” The Belo poll asked a very different question. Its screen asked if the respondent voted in "most" or "all" school, local and primary elections.

*Screening to require that respondents vote in "most" or "all" local and school elections eliminates a large pool of voters who will in fact vote in a highly publicized General Election like the ongoing race for Governor in Texas and in many hotly contested local Legislative races. It is not unusual for turnout in local and school elections to be half or less than the turnout in a General Election.

*Further, voters in city elections and local school board elections are typically higher income, more likely to be homeowners, and more likely to support or “lean” towards supporting Republican candidates than a General Election electorate voter from the same area.

Bottom line:
The voter screen used in the Belo poll eliminates many likely Bill White voters before they are even asked a substantive political question. This poll shows the race favoring Rick Perry to a much higher degree than any other poll because it is unintentionally skewed to favor Perry. I am hopeful that Belo will cease reporting the poll as a fair measure of the current race for Governor in Texas or make clear to viewers and readers that the sample does not reflect the turnout normally expected in a contested General Election race.

Despite his having ignored every editorial board, and even the personal challenge from the most conservative daily in Texas,  the state's media conglomerates -- Hearst newspapers, Cox newspapers and TV stations, and now Belo (newspapers as well as TV stations in the top four Texas markets) continue to flog the Perry campaign line. Maybe it's an accident.

("It is inevitable" is a message to the opposition, of course: don't bother voting, you can't win, it's already over. Precisely designed to counter the surging Democratic wave I wrote about here ... and of which you're already beginning to see some national reporting.)

I certainly think Rick Perry is leading, but the race is much, much closer than the newspapers and TV people are saying, and it will all depend on who gets their voters to the polls. The deadline to register for this election was yesterday; early voting begins week after next on the 19th, and Election Day is four weeks from today.

What are you going to do?

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