Emails (excerpted), Jeff Smith, pollster, Aug. 13, 2013

(PoiltiFact inquiry)

10:46 am

Aug. 13, 2013

I write because we are fact-checking a recent claim by Sen. John Cornyn that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71.2 percent of Hispanic registered voters in Texas and over 86 percent of African American registered voters participated in the 2012 elections.


He offers as backup the bureau’s post-election ACS results. Some say these tend to inflate turnout figures. What do you think and why?


I realize there may not be exit poll information for Texas on this point. But I also thought you might have relevant data.


I hope to complete this check today.




A wrinkle: We are sharing our methodology and results/evidence as we go along, on our Twitter and Facebook pages. So, for instance, I’ll be telling readers/followers/fans that I’ve reached out to interest groups and experts with these questions—and hope to share the array of responses, at least briefly. I wanted you to know that up front.






W. Gardner Selby


PolitiFact Texas


Austin American-Statesman

From: Jeff Smith

Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:54 AM

To: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Subject: Re: Urgent (fresh) fact check inquiry


Didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  Here are the numbers from my statewide voter file:


Overall turnout: 61.11%

Hispanic turnout: 47.24%

African-American turnout: 64.55%

Asian turnout: 48.99%

“Other” turnout: 66.34%


Self-reporting will usually inflate “good” behavior, like voting.


Everyone will have somewhat different figures, for a long list of reasons, but these are in the ballpark.

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:56 AM

To: Jeff Smith

Subject: RE: Urgent (fresh) fact check inquiry


Can you briefly sketch out how you id’d voters by ethnicity?

4:07 pm

Aug. 13, 2013

The Hispanic identification is based on a surname match against a file of Hispanic surnames derived from the census; I also use maiden names where applicable.  The Asian and Black coding is done by a third party whose magic I could only misrepresent by trying to describe it. That is supplemented by a small number of self-identifications or field observations.