Dan Grant: Why the Polls Don't Work
CD-10 candidate taks about why high voter turn-out could help Speaker Craddick now and hurt him in November.
By Richard Whittaker,
1:15PM, Thu. Feb. 28, 2008
Congressional District 10 Democratic hopeful Dan Grant, like so many candidates, is trying to work out the best way to spend his war chest in the last days of the campaign. But while most years this means re-enforcing the hold on the voters you have, this year there's still time for new voters to be won over, just because there's so many of them. "The result of the circus of the presidency coming to town is that everybody over 18 with a pulse is a likely voter," he said last night at a University Democrats meeting at UT Austin.
The early voting turn-out state-wide is already at record levels: as Grant noted, last time around there were 32,000 Democratic primary voters across CD-10. This time, they're expecting three times that number just in the Travis County precincts in the district. This also means that the polls are irrelevant, since most pollsters work with a definition of "likely voter" that means "voted last time."
So what does this mean? Well, first off, the basic rules of campaigning have changed, as every vote is in play. "Targeting is out," Grant said.
Secondly, Obama drawing away independents and centrist Republicans may, perversely, help House Speaker Tom Craddick in March and cripple him in November. With only the base voting in the Republican primaries, Craddick loyalists and arch-conservatives may beat out moderates, but those same base-friendly candidates may have a tougher time come the general election.
Thirdly, it means the busy candidates are starting to run into each other on the campaign trail. Grant recently got a campaign call from Andy Hathcock, currently running for 98th district court. "I picked it up and it sounded too real to be a robocall. So I said, "Andy?'" And lo, it was the husband of Rep. Valinda Bolton, doing some personal campaign calls.