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The latest Lyceum poll

The Texas Lyceum just released a poll on various campaigns and politicians, and well, I’m not sure that it says much of anything. I’ve got the PDF here, and the problems begin right away:

We interviewed Texas adults during the June 5-12 period, talking to 860 adults, 51% female, and 49% male. Three out of four said they are registered voters.

One third are “extremely interested” in politics and public affairs and another 46% are “somewhat interested.” Almost half — 49% — said they vote in “every” or “almost every” election. Another 24 percent said they haven’t voted in any election “over the last two or three years.”

OK, so this is a survey of adults, not likely voters (that’s a subsample of about 430) or even registered voters (approximately 650). Nothing wrong with that, but as it will include opinions from a lot of people who may not bother to cast a ballot next year, I’d be careful about what conclusions I drew from this if I were on a campaign.

About the same number of those polled said they are “certain” or “likely” to vote in each party’s primary (Republicans, 31%; Democrats, 30%), and another 17 percent said they intend to vote in a primary but haven’t yet decided which one.

So 49% of the sample actually exhibits habitual voting behavior, yet 78% claim they’ll be voting in one primary or the other in March. The most generous percentage of “likely” voters one can claim for this survey is 76%, if one simply assumes anyone outside that group that hasn’t voted at all in the past two or three years is likely to vote next year. That math doesn’t add up.

Which means you can pretty much take this with a grain of salt:

Texans who plan to vote in next year’s Republican primary for governor favor incumbent Rick Perry over his main challenger, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, by a 33-21 margin, but the most common answer to that question was undecided, with 41 percent saying they haven’t made up their minds. A small group — 1 percent — expressed support for state Rep. Leo Berman. Perry leads Hutchison among self-identified Republicans 40% to 18%, but that’s also the group with the largest number of undecided voters, at 48%. Hutchison carries 49% of self-identified Democrats and Independents who say they plan to vote in the GOP primary, compared to 23% for Perry and 29% undecided.

One wonders how small the “non-Republicans who plan to vote in the GOP primary” subsample is. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Polling for primaries is tricky business under any circumstance, and in a poll that isn’t specifically screening for likely primary participants, it’s even less useful. The same can be said of the Democratic primary poll result, in which Kinky Friedman “led” the field with ten percent. So much for any claim of name recognition by the Kinkster. Speaking of which:

They’re largely undecided on their favorite candidates for U.S. Senate, should Hutchison resign late this year and prompt a special election in May 2010. Given the choice of six Republicans and two Democrats who’ve expressed interest in that race, 71 percent said they either haven’t decided or didn’t want to say. Houston Mayor Bill White led the pack with 9%, followed by Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with 4%; Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, 3%; and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, former Comptroller John Sharp, and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, at 2%. Sharp and White are Democrats; the others are Republicans.

Two percent for John Sharp? Are you kidding me? I realize this is a sample that’s full of less-than-engaged people, but that’s where being on the scene and on the ballot forever as Sharp has been is supposed to be an asset; the junkies already know who everybody is. Not exactly a confidence-builder, you know?

The survey also has approval ratings for Perry, Hutchison, and President Obama, who clocks in with 68% of the respondents saying he’s done a “very” or “somewhat” good job as President, and for the Legislature, of whom 58% of respondents approve. That number for Obama is higher than his national ratings, and as for the Lege, I agree with Phillip: “I’m not even sure if 58% of the Texas legislature would approve of the Texas legislature.” Happy bunch of people they surveyed, that’s all I can say.

And after all that, they don’t give us a general election matchup for Governor next year, which is the one result that could have been truly interesting. It could have been done as Perry and KBH each versus a generic Democrat, or either versus Kinky, Schieffer, and the now-not-running Van de Putte. Alas, they didn’t do that.

Anyway. All polls are snapshots in time. This one is perhaps a bit fuzzier than others. Make of it what you will.

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8 Comments

  1. trowaman says:

    Honestly, these numbers sound about right to me, especially the Republican primary numbers.

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