There has been some discussion in online forums of the discrepancies between our recent poll of Texas GOP primary voters and other polls conducted in recent weeks. There aren’t a lot of other polls about the Texas election yet, but a particular comparison has been made with a poll from Public Policy Polling, but these differences are relatively easy to explain.
PPP does not go into detail on their methodology, but they do say this much:
“PPP surveyed 400 usual Texas Republican primary voters from June 25th to 27th. The
margin of error for the survey is +/-4.9%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any
campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated
telephone interviews. PPP is a Democratic polling company…”
This is different in a number of respects from the methods used in our poll. Our sample was considerably larger, about twice the size, which should produce a more balanced result. The PPP poll asked a great many questions, not just the straightforward presidential matchup we focused on, including favorability questions and mixed presidential matchups. In addition, they included candidates who are not running like Sarah Palin and omitted declared candidates like Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum, distorting their results.
Most importantly, they polled Texas Republican Primary voters, while our sample focused on highly involved Republican voters with clusters in the most politically active Republican areas of the state and using lists taken not only from voter rolls but also from other sources likely to identify voters whose awareness of candidates and issues is substantially higher. Basically, they polled voters and we polled more of the grassroots party activists who will influence those voters.
With our more informed and involved sample it i almost certain that pure name recognition played much less of a role in our poll. This means that our results may be more indicative of future trends when voters have had time to become more informed about the candidates and issues, while the PPP poll may be a better snapshot of a broader segment of the voter base at this moment.
As an interesting aside, our results are actually rather similar to another PPP poll from New Hampshire, which shows Paul leading Perry by almost exactly the same ratio as we found in our Texas poll.
We also should not discount the political bias which PPP itself admits to. Although they are a relatively new polling source they have been widely used in the last few month by the left-leaning media because of the generally aberrant results from their polls which seem to suggest much more of a politically extreme swing in the Republican voter base than other polls indicate.
All this being said, the current high ranking of Representative Ron Paul in the poll should not be taken as more significant than it is. He has been widely and favorably covered in the right-leaning media in the last few months and stands in much greater favor with grassroots party activists than he does with the broader and less aware voter base. This may change substantially as other candidates distinguish themselves or drop out of the race.
Remember that this was a single question poll and conducted very simply. We do not have extensive demographic analysis of the participants, though we do have an exact count of the sources from which the numbers called were drawn and of the the basis on which the querants were identified as high intensity GOP voters. We also have a basic geographical distribution, which is as follows:
Houston Area: 30%
Dallas/Fort Worth: 21%
Austin Area: 18%
San Antonio Area: 11%
Rio Grande Valley Area: 10%
Gulf Coast: 6%
West Texas: 4%
For any who wish to see the raw data, here it is broken down by candidate cross-indexed with region, taken straight from the MS Excel form used to do the totals.