Not surprisingly, aides to two gubernatorial hopefuls who didn't finish first among their party brethren in the inaugural UT/Texas Tribune poll are questioning the poll's methodology. Vince Leibowitz, campaign manager for Democrat Hank Gilbert, has been insisting to everyone and anyone today that surveys taken over the Internet are worthless measures of public opinion. "People may complain about the reliability of telephone polls, but the reliability of this poll is so far from being beyond reproach I don't even know what else to say," he told Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News. Meanwhile, Terry Sullivan, campaign manager for Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, distributed a long memo questioning whether our "unreliable" poll (there's that word again) is "representative of Texas voters." "Most respected pollsters and journalists would conclude that the only way to obtain a truly representative poll is through live calling," Sullivan wrote.
Mr. Leibowitz and Mr. Sullivan are surely entitled to their opinions, and we're happy to see them ping-pong across the dreaded Internet; just spell our name right, fellas. And our pollsters, Jim Henson and Daron Shaw, are more than capable of explaining and defending themselves. But it's worth noting the obivous: that in polling, as in life, where you stand is where you sit. It has been ever thus that when a poll produces a finding favorable to your candidate, the methodology is perfect and the pollsters are geniuses; as soon as the very same poll produces an unfavorable finding, the same methodology is fatally flawed and the pollsters are idiots. Does anyone doubt that if Hutchison were ahead of Perry in the poll we released this morning, her campaign would be crowing about the brilliance and insight of our data collection? Or that Gilbert would be doing the same? Well, one person doubts the latter: Vince Leibowitz, who maintained in a phone call to me early today -- I assume he had a straight face -- that even if Gilbert had come out in front of the pack, he wouldn't have sent out a press release touting that result, so terrible is our approach to polling. Sure, Vince. You would have passed up the chance to tell the world that your candidate is in the lead.
Honestly, I don't blame Leibowitz for making such a fuss about this, and I don't blame Sullivan either. They're just doing their jobs. As are our pollsters. As are we all.