Ted Cruz on Tuesday won the Republican primary nomination for U.S. Senate by a margin of 13 percentage points, which was close to the predictions of Public Policy Polling and Cruz's own camp, but dramatically divergent from the latest figures that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's campaign released just before the runoff vote.
The Dewhurst campaign, using Baselice & Associates as its internal pollster, showed Dewhurst ahead by 5 points in a July 27 memo. According to the memo, the poll surveyed 1,106 likely voters between July 24 and 26, and showed Dewhurst polling at 48 percent and Cruz at 43 percent.
In the memo, the firm said that its poll was "more inclusive in that it casts a slightly wider net, and rightfully so."
Mike Baselice, president and CEO of the polling firm, said its polling included voters who had already voted early, who would "definitely" vote in the election and who would "probably" vote. He said the data drawn from those who said they already voted and who would "definitely" vote were more indicative of the final election results.
"This was a primary runoff in a different environment and one which we haven't seen before," Baselice said. "And it is now apparent that the definite voters were a more accurate reflection of the outcome, and we should have screened out the probable voters."
He also said the polling data from his company sent to the Dewhurst campaign showed the candidate behind among the definite voters just before and immediately after the July 27 data came out. However, Baselice noted that campaigns own the survey data and that it's their prerogative to share which results they want with the public.
"Like any campaign, they're trying to communicate the best message they can," Baselice said.
The Dewhurst campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Tom Jensen at PPP on July 29 predicted a Cruz victory by a margin of 10 points, and did not include people who said they would “probably” vote, mostly for the same reasons Baselice noted in retrospect.
Turnout for the primary wasn't great to begin with, and with a late and unusual July runoff date, it seemed favorable for us to go with the more stringent screen,” Jensen said.
Cruz's internal polls were apparently the most accurate, predicting he would win by 14 points.
Chris Perkins, Cruz's internal pollster, said he did, in fact, include those who said they would “probably” vote, but only surveyed those who voted in the primary elections. The campaign hired a vendor to obtain an accurate county-by-county list of primary voters to poll. He said primary voters behave very similarly to runoff voters, which is why his numbers were closer to the results.
The Dewhurst campaign went out of the way to bash our methodology of polling, but clearly we had the right model,” Perkins said.