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July 26th, 2018:

What’s the deal with that Civiqs poll?

Last week, Markos at Daily Kos posted this:

I didn’t want to believe Politico’s, “Beto-mania sweeps Texas.” But a look at our Civiqs Texas data (which we poll for our own use, not for any client), and holy shit, it’s real!

Yup. That’s the odious and treason-enabling Ted Cruz leading by just TWO POINTS.

For context, our numbers in the Texas governor’s race look more as you’d expect, with Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez 51-41. So where is Cruz struggling?

There’s the typical 2018-style gender gap, with Cruz leading among men 54-41, and losing women 43-51. Cruz is winning white people 59-36, while losing Latinos 70-24, and black voters 79-14. O’Rourke is winning 18-34 voters 55-37, while losing the 65+ set 58-38. The future looks bright, but we can’t afford to wait for the future! A lot will be riding on O’Rourke’s ability to get out the young vote. Do-or-die, pretty much.

In the end, with both candidates solidifying the support of their base, everything will turn on O’Rourke’s ability to squeeze out the most votes from self-styled independents.

There’s another graph showing Beto leading Cruz 49-44 among indies, but that’s not the point I’m working on here. The point is that Civiqs has Cruz up only two on O’Rourke, which is the closest the race has been shown to be, and it’s got Republicans – perhaps sincerely, perhaps performatively – freaked out, as a recent fundraising email shows.

You’d think a poll like this would set the world on fire, but other than the GOP email there hasn’t been much out there. This is probably because Civiqs uses some non-standard methodology. Here’s Gardner Selby doing an explainer/fact check thing on it:

To our inquiry, the director of Civiqs, Drew Linzer, told us the poll showing O’Rourke just behind Cruz, available to Civiqs subscribers, was accurately portrayed by Moulitsas.

By email, Linzer further said the poll, not commissioned or sponsored by a client, relied on responses since February 2017 from respondents engaged over the web as volunteers for Civiqs survey panels who self-identified as Texas residents and registered voters.

Civiqs says in the methodology section of its website that it maintains a growing list of Americans who have agreed to take polls at civiqs.com. Panelists reside in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and match the contours of the United States along key geographic, demographic and ideological lines,” Civiqs says.

We asked Linzer, a former political scientist at Emory University, to talk about relying on responses collected over more than 17 months. “The lengthy timeframe,’Linzer replied, “enables Civiqs to perform long-term daily tracking in a sustainable, methodologically rigorous manner.” Civiqs, he said, applies “specialized trendline fitting statistical models” to ensure the results match current public opinion.

Linzer said by phone that for the Texas poll, Civiqs emailed 40 to 50 respondents a day, asking each one about their Texas residence and registered voter status and stance on the Senate candidates, with those results over time feeding the trend line.

As of July 4, the latest date shown on the trend line posted by Moulitsas, “the most recent day’s worth of data has the greatest impact on the result,” Linzer said, though responses from previous days mattered a lot, too, he said. Linzer said responses gathered in 2017 also contributed to the result, but only “infinitesimally so.”

“It’s complicated. It is a little different from what a traditional pollster does” in reaching one set of respondents over a few consecutive days, Linzer said.

Make of that what you will, basically. FiveThirtyEight doesn’t include Civiqs in its pollster rankings, perhaps (I’m hypothesizing) because Civiqs’ methodology is such that they don’t meet the 538 definition of a “pollster”. Whatever the case, I’m glad Selby wrote about this because I had no idea what to make of this. I still don’t, but at least I feel like I understand the dimensions of the question better. Also, I’m going to get a second post out of this, which is always a good thing from my perspective. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow on that one.

Cruz proposes five debates

All on Fridays, but at least he’s offering something.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has challenged Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke to five topical debates before Election Day, about three months after O’Rourke challenged Cruz to six.

Cruz strategist Jeff Roe sent a letter Wednesday to O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman, proposing the following debate schedule:

  • Aug. 31 in Dallas on “Jobs/Taxes/Federal Regulations/National Economy”
  • Sept. 14 in McAllen on “Immigration/Border Security/Criminal Justice/Supreme Court”
  • Sept. 21 in San Antonio on “Foreign Policy/National Security”
  • Oct. 5 in Houston on “Energy/Trade/Texas Economy”
  • Oct. 12 in Lubbock on “Healthcare/Obamacare”

Roe said the debates would all take place on Friday evenings “because the Senate is expected to be in session during that time.” The debates would each be an hour long and vary in format — some would be town hall-style, while others would feature the two candidates seated or standing at podiums.

“As Senator Cruz has long believed, our democratic process is best served by presenting a clear and substantive contrast of competing policy ideas, and these five debates will be an excellent way for both you and the Senator to share your respective visions with Texas voters in the weeks leading up to the November election,” Roe wrote to O’Rourke.

See here for some background, and compare Cruz’s response to Dan Patrick’s sniveling wimpery. Maybe someone should email that last paragraph to Allen Blakemore and ask him what Danno thinks of that. Obviously, Cruz can’t hide behind the “unknown and underfunded opponent” dodge, but does anyone seriously believe that people are less familiar with where he stands versus where Dan Patrick stands? Ted Cruz is many lousy things, but on this one issue he’s at least not a chicken. The DMN has more.

If we actually wanted to increase voter participation

Here’s what we’d do, courtesy of the Center for American Progress:

This report examines the problem of low voter participation in America, which includes structural barriers that keep Americans from having their voices heard as well as widespread disillusionment with the political process. As this report shows, obstacles to voting and distrust in government have repercussions for representational democracy, leading to participation gaps across demographics as well as elected bodies that are unrepresentative of the broader population of American citizens.

To increase voter participation and expand voting opportunities for eligible voters, states have a number of tools available, including those detailed in this report. Taken together, the policies and practices explored in the sections below are proven to increase voter participation and make voting more convenient. The success of these programs depends largely on states’ commitment—as well as that of campaigns and grassroots organizations—to inform eligible voters of their availability, how to use them, and why exercising their power as voters can make a difference in their lives. In addition to analyzing the contributing factors to low voter turnout and the effectiveness of pro-voter policies in increasing participation, this report examines the impact of civics education and voter engagement work.

This report also outlines the following recommendations to drive voter participation and make the process of voting more convenient for eligible Americans:

  1. Streamline voter registration with automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration (SDR),11 preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, and online voter registration
  2. Make voting more convenient with in-person early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and vote-at-home with vote centers
  3. Provide sufficient resources in elections and ensure voting is accessible
  4. Restore rights for formerly incarcerated people
  5. Strengthen civics education in schools
  6. Invest in integrated voter engagement (IVE) and outreach

This report also highlights the success of these policies based on existing literature. Where possible, gains in voter participation were projected using current impact data. Of course, demographics and voting cultures differ across states and even by jurisdiction, so these projections are not exact. However, they do provide an idea of how many of America’s missing voters could be engaged through these policies. There were some policies for which the authors were unable to project gains because key data points were unavailable. For these policies, more research must be done to determine their potential impact on voter participation in future elections.

There’s a lot more, so go read the rest. For obvious reasons, none of the things that we don’t already have in Texas (namely, in-person early voting) are going to happen here while we are governed by the regime that is now in charge. We can sure start a push for them at the federal level, though, and all of these items should be on the agenda in the states where they are doable. You know how Greg Abbott likes to bloviate about calling a constitutional convention? Well, my fantasy do-over Constitution contains an affirmative right to vote that jackasses like Greg Abbott can’t arbitrarily screw with. All the resisting we’re doing is great, but if we’re not also thinking about the things we want to accomplish after we win, we’re doing it wrong. The Current has more.

Texas blog roundup for the week of July 23

The Texas Progressive Alliance has never seen a more pathetic and cowardly performance by a President as it brings you this week’s roundup.

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