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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

More on the Montgomery Poll

I spoke with Jeff Montgomery from Montgomery & Associates this morning about the previously mentioned "Texas Directions" survey. He stressed to me the important point that, again, this poll is not of likely voters or even registered voters, but rather a random sample of the Texas adult demographic. Some of the detailed issue responses were very informative.

In political science, a popular poll to run in the off-years before presidential elections is the "feeling thermometer" survey. It asks respondents to measure how they feel about potential candidates on a scale of 1 - 100, with 100 being described as "warm" or positive and 1 being described as "cold" or negative. This leads to a representation of how a population sample feels, on average, about a candidate. Breakdowns by party affiliation, gender, race, age, are also performed for the sake of running regressions on the data. This is an intangible idea about a candidate rather than a more specific question, like "Do you think Candidate X will raise your taxes?"

The questions asked along with the general party ID question in this survey range from the solid - "Which party do you think is doing a better job at building and maintaining state roads and highways?" to the touchy-feely intangible - "Which party does a better job at sharing your values?" Jeff Montgomery tells me that in this sample 30% of the respondents were Hispanic, and the rest of the demographic reflect the general Texas population, although I haven't seen the crosstabs yet.

The most intriguing aspect of the responses was the break on the touchy-feelies. On "shares our values," Democrats in 2006 lagged by only .8%, finishing 41.7% to the Republicans' 42.5%. In 2005, Democrats lost that question by a seemingly insurmountable 13.2%, scoring 34.3% against a GOP score of 47.5. In 2004, the GOP had a simple majority at 51.4% while the Democrats were at 32.4%.

In short, an almost ten point jump in two years on a question dealing with a highly charged, emotional, and savagely messaged intangible is worthy of mention, and probably worthy of more than that. This is Texas, and when Democrats generically pull almost even with the GOP on values, something is going on.

Further, on a similarly electric issue like taxes, the Republican lead in 2006 was almost twenty points, and in 2005 was closer to ten. In 2006, when asked which party was doing a better job at getting the most out of the taxpayer's dollar, 38.8% said Republicans, 37.6% said Democrats, and 12.2% said there was no difference. So, on another usually polarizing issue that Democrats usually get pounded on, they are almost even with Republicans.

I think it also revealing that on another intangibles question - "Which party does a better job of caring about people like ?" - Republicans take a drubbing after trading places with Democrats over the last three years. In 2004, people felt Republicans cared more about them by 42.1% to 33.2%. In 2005, the parties were virtually tied with a .1% Democratic lead, 38.6% to 38.5%. In 2006, Democrats won this question by more than ten points, 45.7% to 34.9%.

Again, this isn't a sample of likely voters and there are machinations outside of this polling universe that must take place before one can get literally excited over these results. However, the general idea of Democratic performance capability in or around 2004 was reflected not totally inaccurately in 2004's party id responses, and a rise in Democratic id of more than ten points in two years and a similar drop for Republicans is serious business.

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