New York’s Out of Touch With Texas

Texas FlagOr at least the New York Times interactive 2006 Election Guide is. While the Flash-based tool has some great navigation and layout features, it’s a little bit lacking in one area: accurate poll numbers and candidate listings.

Now it’s no secret that I’m pretty interested in politics and I’m very interested in the Texas gubernatorial race. We’ve been covering the insurgent campaign of Kinky Friedman and the drive for Libertarian candidate James Werner to get some respect from the establishment. So naturally, I checked the Texas governor page in the handy-dandy interactive map. You know what it said?

Recent polls

Blum and Weprin (Feb. 9-15)
Perry: 36%
Bell: 19%
Strayhorn: 16%

See it for yourself here . No mention of either Friedman or Werner. No mention of all the other polls taken since February.

The New York Times welcomes feedback at, but have yet to correct the page after two emails from me. Perhaps they need some more feedback from our readers.

Update by Nicholas Sarwark: I just received a reply from the New York Times, excerpted below.

Thanks for your notes. I meant to write back before but the reason we don’t feature those other polls is that the Times has very stringent requirements for which polls that we use and Rasmussen doesn’t measure up because its methodology is unreliable. I’ll keep watching for other polls as they come out.

Good to know they listen to feedback, but I’m surprised that nobody has done a poll they consider “reliable” since February.

Update 2 by Nicholas Sarwark:
Ben Werschkul emailed me to clarify:

the reason we don’t use Rasmussen is that they use “interactive voice response” polls, also known as “robo-polls,” which employ an automated, recorded voice to call respondents who are asked to answer questions by punching telephone keys. Anyone who can answer the phone and hit the buttons on the keypad can respond to the survey.

Nicholas Sarwark

Mr. Sarwark lives in Colorado and keeps poor people out of cages for a living. His views are his own, not his employer's, his wife's, or his dog's. They are also awesome and always right.

  1. I sent mine before you posted the reply, but my comments still stand: It just seems to me that news organizations have a fiduciary duty (and if not, certainly it makes financial sense to put things in perspective for readers) to present reality. When you quote polls that don’t list all the options a voter is going to have on their ballot, you come off like a tool of the political establishment.

    How can there be headlines about how annoyed voters are with their choices, and yet, you don’t list them all? I have no respect for the accuracy or fairness of any publication that does not list all the candidates for a particular office. If you are not the author of the poll, you should always point out that the poll takers did not list all the candidates and that it is therefore statistically inaccurate. You should name the candidates who were left off. Otherwise you are printing press-releases and can have no claim to journalism.

    Please list all candidates. Better yet, cover them.

  2. “Anyone who can answer the phone and hit the buttons on the keypad can respond to the survey.” I think that also qualifies them to vote. ;)

  3. Not using the Rasmussen polls is fine, but I’m having trouble believing that there hasn’t been one reliable poll conducted since February.