Emails, Jessica Sandlin, Texas press secretary, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Aug. 12-14, 2013
Aug. 12, 2013
Please note the quote in the Senator’s column refers to the percent of ‘registered voters’ within the racial groups who went to the polls.
Aug. 14, 2013
...I’d like to stress these points:
· Sen. Cornyn cited the Census Bureau report, which the Pew Center calls “the best source of information on the demographics of the nation’s electorate.”
· Arguments that the Census findings are inflated are wrought with hypotheticals and generalizations, not exact science:
o “Might this be because non-voting blacks were more eager than non-voting whites to tell survey takers that they voted for the first ever African-American president?” – Pew Research Center
o “there’s no way of knowing for sure” – Pew Research Center
o "It’s the government asking if you’ve voted or registered to vote," Gonzalez said. "So there’s an (unquantified) exaggeration factor." - Los Angeles-based William C. Velasquez Institute.
o “Bureau’s estimates tend to overstate actual turnout because people don’t like saying they didn’t vote, especially with something as important as a presidential election.” – Michael Li
o “If any group would seem likely to be reluctant to own up to not voting in 2012, it probably would be African Americans.”- Michael Li
· Since the networks did not conduct traditional exit polls in Texas in 2012, the only other set of data to examine are voting records. As you found in your previous PF check, “no one marks down their race or ethnicity when they register to vote.” More from Michael Li:
o “The imperfection comes in the fact that Texas - unlike Georgia, North Carolina, and a number of other states - does not track the ethnicity of registered voters.”
o “That means that someone wanting to figure out turnout by ethnicity has to use markers (such as last name and census block data, supplemented by commercial info) to model the likely ethnicity of a voter.”
o “All that said, for the vast part of voters, we can be certain of ethnicity with a high degree of probability.” (note the oxymoronic use of “certain” and “high degree of probability”
· Conclusion: In his op-ed, Sen. Cornyn cited the Census Bureau report, a set of data that informs the law. Like any poll or survey, the Census Bureau recognizes that there is a margin of error. But with the lack of exit polls for Texas for 2012 and the inability to accurately track ethnicity by examining voter rolls, the Census Bureau report is the best option that exists to determine voter turnout in Texas by race.