• December 5, 2021
 Analysis: A Poll Showing a Close Race in Texas, if Most Texans Voted

Analysis: A Poll Showing a Close Race in Texas, if Most Texans Voted

You probably saw the new Texas political survey from Quinnipiac released last week — the one that had Democrat Beto O’Rourke running just a few percentage points behind Republican Ted Cruz in this year’s U.S. Senate race.

Heady stuff, or scary stuff, depending on your team.

It’s from a highly regarded polling operation, but there are a couple of caveats that ought to figure into your jubilation/trepidation. The biggest is that the poll included a lot of Texans who have never been in a voting booth and likely never will be.

Also, this is a springtime poll. Lots of voters who actually will show up on Election Day have no more idea how they’ll vote on Nov. 6 than they know what they’ll have for lunch that day.

Partisans know. People acquainted with the candidates know. But political predilections are hard to nail down. People change their minds, candidates make mistakes, circumstances change. Take a look at this riff on springtime pollingfrom the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin (the authors are on the team that conducts the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll) and you can see the difference between what the state’s voters have said months before elections and how they’ve actually voted.

Second, this new poll was a survey of registered voters, as opposed to a survey of likely voters. The difference is immense. Texas has 15.2 million registered voters, according to the secretary of state. Just over 9 million voted in the 2016 election, and presidential elections get the biggest turnouts. In 2014, which was a midterm election year like the year we’re in now, 4.7 million people voted. The folks at Quinnipiac also noted that 53 percent of the registered voters in Texas didn’t yet have an impression of O’Rourke. He’s never run statewide, after all, never been on a ballot outside of El Paso County, and he’s not in the hot part of the campaign season yet.

That’s all pretty normal, but it tells you where the holes are in any early survey of this broad a pool of voters.

Or, as it turns out, non-voters. Low turnout is a perennial problem across the country, but Texas outdoes most states — in the wrong way. (Shout out to Hawaii for beating us: Thanks!)

Here’s a simple political maxim: If you don’t vote, you don’t matter.

You don’t have power until and unless you exercise it.

Protesting, marching and speaking out isn’t voting. It’s useful. Sometimes it gets people to vote. Sometimes it reminds the pinheads in the capitols in Texas and Washington, D.C., who they’re working for and that their bosses vote. But people and factions that don’t vote have no juice. Nobody cares. They’re civic toddlers: noisy, cranky and a general pain in the back. Nobody is about to hand them the car keys.

Nobody listened to the Tea Party until the 2010 elections. Up until that election, smarty-pants insiders and officeholders regarded those folks as cranks. After that election, they were recognized as essential members of the conservative movement.

They got into the game in the easiest way possible. They engaged.

Non-voters get their power when they do the boring, clerk-like chore of registering to vote, showing up to vote and voting in a way that makes people listen.

Politicians are responsive. Honest. You can tell when you try to get them to do something that crosses their masters. The only way to change what they’re doing is to master the masters: Outnumber them. The only way to do that is to go to the polls.

It’s a free country, and you don’t have to vote. Everybody has friends who can yammer at length about how little a vote is worth. Those are the people the officeholders ignore whenever they can, like a vegetarian ignores the butcher.

Nothing happens to politicians who ignore non-voters, unless they get so far off road that those people become voters. In the meantime, ignoring non-voters gives them more time to listen to the other voters and to the interest groups that might or might not have things going in the direction you’d like things to go.

The people who got into office when those folks weren’t voting would generally prefer that those folks stick to their habits — forever. They didn’t need them to get where they are, and new entries into the game are potentially threatening to their careers. Want to protect them? Stay home. Watch TV. Mind your flower bed or your video game. Nobody cares what you do if you don’t vote.

Texas Democrats have a slogan that “Texas isn’t a red state — it’s a non-voting state.” Republicans like to say people don’t vote because they’re happy with the way things are going.

It’s hard to tell, unless you look at polls that include everyone who’s registered to vote, not just those likely to do so. Among those people, in Texas, in springtime, Cruz is three percentage points ahead of O’Rourke, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune


The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Facebook (@TexasTribune) Twitter (@TexasTribune) Instagram (@Texas_Tribune)

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  • Ted Cruz is unfit for Texas and needs to be voted out from the US senate come November 6,2018 midterm elections! At least all those PEEbrain ‘TRUMPTURDS’ that post over at the KVIA forum. Can’t delete my post for defending Congressman Beto O’Rourke as they bash and bad mouth the honorable congressman.
    Congressman Beto O’Rourke is gaining ground on Ted Cruz, and he probably will beat him for the United States senate, God and willing.
    Before Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced that he was going to run for Ted Cruz senate seat, Beto O’Rourke was only known in the 16 congressional district of the state of Texas. Now Texans are finding out who he is and that he want’s to represent everybody in Texas and with this being said. He deserves our votes, Name me one positive thing that Ted Cruz has done for our Great State and it’s residence?
    I don’t think you’ll be able to find anything positive because there is nothing he has done other than line his pockets with his tax cut vote while occupying a US senate seat.
    Congressman Beto O’Rourke will help make Texas Great Again, he don’t accept special interest lobbyist money! He’s A GENUINE TEXAN! and Texas Born Native.
    Same can’t be said about the Canadian born Ted Cruz! that even the republicans in the house of congress despise him. Ever wonder why all in a sudden Ted Cruz is chumming up to Donald Trump just to get Trump to come to Texas to campaign for him. What a brown noser Ted Cruz is! VOTE HIM OUT OF OFFICE! Let’s make an example out of him…he’s ‘UNFIT’ to lead!

  • It would be nice if someday the El Paso Herald Post would return back to the print press! Back in the day my parents had subscriptions to both El Paso daily news papers. The El Paso Times and the El Paso Herald Post!
    The El Paso Times was always known to be conservative right wing republican, as they would always endorse the republicans. The El Paso Herald Post was more reasonable as they would lean democrat!
    It’s different now because every city publication now has a Facebook Blog! I HATE FACEBOOK! so much gossip and people nosing into other peoples business.
    Just like KVIA forum and El Paso Times, they attract degenerate undesirable deplorable republicans! there on the El Paso Times they carry on with Donald Trump’s Hate Rallies on Facebook! So much anti Beto O’Rourke HATE Rhetoric. These people are disgusting sub human animals, they are after all low life republicans bragging about Ted Cruz. And all his accomplishments! Which they never say which ones because there are not any accomplishments other than Ted Cruz gaining some serious lazy gut fat from doing nothing. Other than blabbing his fat nasty trap in the house of congress.
    I miss the El Paso Herald Post, but I guess this is as good as it will ever get! El Paso Herald Post online! unlike the El Paso Times, they constantly solicit for readers to subscribe. Since their paper is losing employees,readers,subscribers and business advertisers.
    El Paso Times use to be free online, but not no more,they are financially hurting and the paper mostly carries the obituaries, a page from USA Today, outdated sports and the daily horoscope and of all places they are headquartered somewhere in Arizona.Yes they are no longer in El Paso!
    And it’s loaded with republican TRUMPTURDS! on the commenting facebook blog.
    Between buying an El Paso Times newspaper or a Mad magazine, I’ll go with Alfred E Newman.

    • Off your meds again, eh? Cruz is going to stomp Beto’s butt!

      • Still can’t figure out what’s a White Nationalist RACIST Supremacist like you doing in a place like El Paso Tejas! Mad Mike, did you run out of OPIOIDS?
        You call yourself a ‘worker’ over at the KVIA Forum, you are just a no good lazy
        free loading REJECT TRANSIENT BUM!
        Cruz is a STOOGE! people are sick of the TRUMPTURD kiss butt!
        Beto’s gaining on the canadian stooge and going to give him his beat down and send him packing out of Tejas!!!
        Hey what’s this about that Robert Mueller has 49 questions to ask your boy pissbrain trump! Not even rudy giuliani can save his rear end. RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA, trump keeps winning for his boss Comrade Vladimir Putin! chump chump chump chump chump!

        • Look at your own rantings and tell me that YOU are not a racist!

          • Me a racist Mad Mike? I doubt it. I get along fine with all cultures, ethnicities,people of color,races,religious and I had a few caucasian room mates when I lived in California. What I’m saying is that I get along well with most white people, just as long as they don’t have any racial hang ups and don’t cross me.
            I know that wouldn’t be the same between us, you are way too rebel way too hateful. I’ve crossed paths with many people just like you,mostly in the military where I was out numbered but never out whited. I could never trust you Mad Mike let alone turn my back away from you.
            So me being a racist, NO! But I do make exceptions, I dislike all republicans, even relatives that are republicans.

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