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The Polling Center: More on that Lubbock "Poll"

Surely they don’t do it this way in Peoria?

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Surely they don’t do it this way in Peoria?

To catch you up, a Lubbock TV station reported on a local poll that had Gov. Rick Perry ahead of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary for governor. Jim Henson, part of the team that does the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, fired off a blog item about it.

He had some questions about the poll, and, it turns out, with good reason.

The poll’s methodology falls somewhere between unorthodox and dubious.

The pollster is a printer. Michael Stevens is running his busy but offbeat polling operation out of Action Printing in Lubbock (they do some political printing, he says, for candidates on both sides of the partisan line, and also run some campaigns).

He’s got a weird polling method. He gets lists of people who regularly vote and sends them postcards directing them to a polling website that, he says, lets him know exactly who’s responding. (Mr. Orwell? Hello?) For this particular poll, done in advance of the November elections, which included some bond issues in Lubbock, he sent out 18,883 postcards and got 2,087 responses. He says the margin of error on that is +/- 1.89 percent. This particular poll was done October 30 through November 4, but wasn’t released until this week.

He said he included people from four lists: people who’d voted in previous Republican primaries made up the majority of a group that also had registered voters new to Lubbock, people who voted in three elections in the last year, and voters who took part in “Operation Chaos” — a grassroots campaign geared to flood the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries with people who’d vote for Hillary Clinton and against Barack Obama.

He defends the accuracy of his polling, but says he doesn’t have much company in that. “This isn’t accepted by most political analysts yet — they’re skeptical about it.”

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