This appears to be the big question. The Houston Chronicle reports that a few polls have come out in the gubernatorial election, each painting a successively worse picture for State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor. First, an internal poll from the campaign of Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for Governor, that showed him beating Davis by 18 points. Davis fired back with one showing her deficit to only be eight points. Meanwhile, YouGov –in conjunction with both CBS and The New York Times– released its second poll for this race, confirming Abbott’s lead at 18, actually one point higher than the previous YouGov poll from over the summer.
The first poll, Abbott’s internal memo, was conducted by a firm called Wilson Perkins Allen. The firm typically has a sizable Republican bias, but with a result this overwhelming, there should be little doubt of who is up by double digits. The poll showed Abbott leading with a majority of both women and Hispanics.
The second poll, Davis’ internal poll, paints a far rosier picture, with the deficit being a comparably mere eight points. Both of these internal polls, as best as I can figure out, exclude both Kathie Glass (the Libertarian) and Brandon Parmer (the Green). This poll, effectively, has the same result that Rasmussen Report offered up last month. Granted, this poll may offer some improvement for Davis, since Rasmussen pegged the race at 48Abbott-40Davis and this poll offers 46Abbott-38Davis, meaning that Abbott is further from the all-important 50-percent mark.
However, there have been some Pro-Davis groups that have latched onto this poll as some type of “momentum” for the Democrats. Obviously, such characterizations are unwise.
Finally, we come to the YouGov poll. They have a rather haphazard track record, but the new 18 point deficit that Davis faces has actually grown since July. As I wrote at length about YouGov when their previous poll came out, they should be taken with a grain of salt, but not be so wholeheartedly discounted like a Texas Tribune poll.
As I have explained ad naseum in the past, Public Policy Polling (PPP) and Rasmussen Reports are the only two polling houses worth their weight in paper that actually poll Texas.
If I stopped ten people on the street in Houston and jotted down the results on this publication, that might be the worst poll in the history of Texas polling. But, statistically speaking, there would be a noticeable chance that 5 support Abbott, 4 support Davis and 1 currently undecided. That doesn’t mean I have a good poll, it means that –for lack of a non-cliched phrase– my broken clock is right on one of its obligatory two instances throughout the day.
Accordingly, I share the sentiment of many Democrats in discounting the apocalyptic tone that the YouGov poll would seem to prompt from the Davis campaign. If I had to guess, I would think that Davis currently trails at about 8-10 points, with an insignificant portion of the electorate still undecided. All other things being equal, that is where she will probably end up, losing to Abbott around 53-43, with the remainder split amongst the fringe candidates.
The Davis campaign appears complacent with the eight-point deficit to a worrisome extent. I observed much of the same complacent-with-mediocrity attitude a couple weeks back when one national pundit moved the gubernatorial race from “safe Republican” to “leans Republican.” You would have thought a poll had put the Democrat ahead by their gleeful attitudes.
The Chronicle article that I linked at the top of this post makes much the same point. This is not 2012, where both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were arguing over polls that showed either one clinching victory. The only argument here is how much Davis is losing by, and it is a rather depressing argument over semantics for her to make.