DeLayVsWorld still has some issues with the survey. One point he raises that I don't think has been fully addressed:
28% of district voters voted straight ticket Republican in 2004. Those who study voting know that voting is a habit, and voting habits are very difficult to break. Thus, the Chronicle's reported poll result of 22% for DeLay would indicate that one in four straight ticket Republican voters won't vote straight ticket this election cycle, and that no one else would vote for DeLay. While I suppose that there are some scenarios that this could happen, they all involve DeLay being in jail.
In other words, this part of the poll doesn't reflect real-world realities. Good pollsters think long and hard about these issues before they put a poll into the field, because when a poll does not reflect real-world realities, then the poll is worthless.
There were five contested races that appeared on every ballot in CD22 along with DeLay's: the Presidential election, the three statewides, and Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 4, which covers a 14-county area that includes Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Harris. Tom DeLay picked up 150,000 votes. Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo had the next lowest total among the other Republican candidates, with 159,000. As such, this means that some 9000 people in CD22 voted for each of these Republicans, but not for Tom DeLay.
Note that in 2002, even though DeLay underperformed in the district as a whole compared to his fellow Republicans, he was not the low man on the totem pole. He got more votes than Jerry Patterson, David Dewhurst, and Steven Wayne Smith. There probably were some people who voted for all other Republicans except for DeLay, but based on numeric totals alone, you can't affirmatively conclude that.
So the question then becomes "How many straight-ticket Republican voters overrode their choice in the CD22 race?" And the answer is...I have no idea. I'm not sure there's any way to tell, or at least I'm not sure if the relevant data is publicly available. It could well be that all or almost all of the straight-ticket voters left their selections unaltered, and that the dip in DeLay's total comes exclusively or almost so from the people who made individual choices. If, however, we assume for the sake of argument that all 9000 Republican-but-not-DeLay voters were of the straight ticket variety, meaning they pushed the straight-ticket button then went to the CD22 race and chose someone other than DeLay to override the selection in that race, then he tallied about 65,000 votes from these people. That's a hair under 25% of the total vote. By DVsW's calculation, if the CD22 survey in question is accurate, that could mean that as few as one in eight of DeLay's hardcore supporters would have changed their minds.
Now of course, I have no way of knowing whether the number of fickle straight-ticket Republican voters in CD22 is closer to 1000 or 8000. The number crunching above is strictly a hypothetical construct. There is a point to this, though, and that point is that DeLay's fortunes in CD22 are not just tied to his trading more Republican turf for areas that are less so in the 2003 redistricting, but also due to fewer Republican voters pushing the button for him in 2004. I think we all agree that for DeLay to lose in 2006, that set of non-DeLay-voting Republicans will have to increase further. We can still disagree as to whether or not this survey gives evidence of that occurring. I think it'll take more polling of the district before any firm conclusions can be made; even if there was no dispute over the methodology here, any single poll is just one data point. You can't infer a trend from one point. Whatever the case, I find the discussion has been pretty enlightening. Hope you have, too.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 23, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack