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Jul 07 2011

Texas GOP Primary Poll: Secondary Analysis

category: Poll Analysis author:

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.

Pawlenty 6 5 1 1 0 3 3 19
Bachmann 18 13 8 7 3 4 5 58
Paul 63 38 36 24 11 14 5 191
Johnson 28 13 23 4 3 3 2 76
Romney 7 17 14 17 9 8 2 74
Cain 48 21 23 5 17 4 3 121
Perry 41 31 25 15 29 6 7 154
Gingrich 23 29 18 9 10 5 2 96
Santorum 3 2 4 2 0 0 0 11
Huntsman 7 4 4 1 0 0 1 17
Undecided 21 13 2 12 7 5 5 65
Total 265 186 158 97 89 52 35 882

9 Responses to “Texas GOP Primary Poll: Secondary Analysis”

  1. John says:

    I’m curious as to how you determined who is a “highly involved republican”? I’m also wondering how you made the determination as to which undeclared candidates to include and which ones to exclude?

  2. admin says:

    We identified the “highly involved republicans” as those who in addition to voting in the last GOP primary also donated to candidates in the 2010 or 2008 election or could be identified as a precinct chair or a member of a Republican club or tea party group in their area.

    The only candidate we included who does not at least have an exploratory committee, was Rick Perry, because he’s so prominent in Texas.

  3. Jake says:

    This is great! A poll that goes beyond the name-recognition the media puts out there and actually shows what the future vote is going to look like. RON PAUL 2012!!!

  4. Murray Blum says:

    I see you have added more info to your website today. Hmm. Where to begin….
    First, you state… “while our sample focused on highly involved Republican voters with clusters in the most politically active Republican areas of the state”

    What is a “highly involved Republican voters” and how did you identify such?
    And what defines the “most politically active Republican areas”?
    Oh, I see, they are “those who in addition to voting in the last GOP primary also donated to candidates in the 2010 or 2008 election or could be identified as a precinct chair or a member of a Republican club or tea party group in their area.”. So in other words, this was a very narrow focus group.

    Interesting of note also is that the Houston area, while the largest city in Texas, it is not the largest metro area in the state, that would be Dallas/Fort Worth by a couple percentage points. However the population sample from the Houston Area was nine percentage points higher, which is a 43% increase over the DFW Metroplex. The Houston “area” also happens to encompass Ron Paul’s home congressional district – as does most of the Gulf Coast – where another 6% of the respondents were from. I also believe the Tea Party groups (another focus of your survey) are fairly active in that area as well. Oh yeah, and then there is the Austin area – while one-fifth the size of the DFW area, it’s sample was almost as big as the DFW area, only 3% points lower. Hmm… What is in the Austin area? Ahh, a big university where you are likely to find many youth – and the youth is where Ron Paul gets a large percentage of his “active” support.

    Nothing like oversampling to get the results you desire from the start. If you narrow the focus enough, you can achieve the pre-determined results you desire.

    Nice try Mr. Nalle, but I think I have shown this “poll” you conducted was nothing more than a sham to inflate the not-so-popular Ron Paul. He’ll get 8% to 10% of the vote – 12% on the high side – and that is generous given the polls. He has a rabid following, no doubt about that, but he does not and will not appeal to the masses and the average voter, especially in a general election.

    • admin says:

      Murray, you can think whatever you like, but what would be my motivation to advance Paul in a poll? I was as surprised by the results as anyone. Going into the poll I expected Perry to be on top with Paul third behind Bachmann.

      And the raw numbers above do not represent the breakdown of our calling list, they represent where we got the most live responses.

      As for your theory about Austin, since our secondary selection criteria were donations to candidates or involvement in other trackable party activities, that actually rules out most students as we did not use YR or CR groups at all. If you look at the zip-code breakdown of our calls very few of them were to the university area. Most of them were to suburban areas around Austin where the Republican population is concentrated.

      I also direct you to the PPP poll linked to in the article. In that poll they found Paul beating Perry by almost exactly the same ratio as in this poll. That’s rather strong corroboration of our results.

      I realize you don’t like Ron Paul and I’m not sure that your final analysis of where he’ll end up is at all wrong. But at this point in the election he has more momentum than most other candidates. If Perry actually enters the race I would expect him to move up substantially.


    • Kaphen DePriest says:

      Mr. Blum,

      With all due respect sir, you seem pretty rabid yourself. Is there any particular reason that makes you feel it is necessary to denigrate Ron Paul’s followers? Even if it is only 10% of the vote, they are active and knowledgable about their candidate and his positions.

      Would you prefer voters who know nothing more than, “Hope and change”? Hmmm… maybe you would.

  5. Joe M says:

    While I like these results, I do have to agree that the sample was not really as random as most polls like this attempt to be. I also note that you did not include Thaddeus McCotter, Fred Karger, or Buddy Roemer, all of whom have officially declared their candidacies.

    • Joe M says:

      Oops, I just noticed that this poll was taken before Thaddeus McCotter officially joined. The other two have been in the race for months, however.

  6. Shawn says:

    For Murray: I am an active Republican. I’ve attended the last 2 district conventions and the last 2 State conventions. I am currently a precinct chair and I donated to Ron Paul’s campaign in 2008. I also donated to a PAC dedicated to raising money for Dr. Paul’s campaign. I also helped organized and publicize a successful fundraiser event at the Texas History Museum. You could classify me as a frustrated social/fiscal conservative that got fed up of the failure of our delegates to elect honest representatives dedicated to honoring the principals of our Constitution. I have personnally educated hundreds of people and I’m sure there has been an exponential effect over the last 3 years. Once people start to pay attention to our representatives actions vs their rhetoric they get as angry as I am and they tell their neighbors. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised, myself, to see the results of this poll.