AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the most watched elections in the country right now is the Senate race between Sen. Ted Cruz and challenger Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Over the past two days, two polls were released that yielded very different results for the two candidates. The methodology of how this data was collected sheds some light on the opposing outcomes.
O’Rourke made headlines earlier this month after poll numbers were released that showed his campaign closing the gap on incumbent Cruz. The situation became increasingly more tense for the Cruz camp after the New York Times reported that White House advisor Mick Mulvaney stated in a private meeting that Cruz may lose the election because he is not “likable enough.”
Despite the momentum Beto’s campaign had gained, a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed Cruz with a sizable nine-point lead. This newest data took into account only those who are likely voters, versus all registered voters. Things grew worse for Texas Democrats as they lost a majority-Hispanic state Senate district seat in a special election that same day.
However, within 24-hours the conversation around the election changed, again. A new poll put out by Ipsos Wednesday shows O’Rourke ahead by 2 points, also only taking into account likely voters. The question now becomes, how can two polls released within a day of each other have such drastically different results?
It starts with how the polls were conducted. The Quinnipiac poll, that showed Cruz leading, was a phone poll utilizing cell phones and landlines. The Ipsos poll, that showed O’Rourke leading, was an internet poll. People who use landlines tend to be older, whereas internet users tend to be younger.
Secondly, it is important to break down what is meant by “likely voters.” Quinnipiac polls use your voting history to make this determination. If you have a long history of voting, they consider you to be a likely voter. The Ipsos poll also uses voting history, but they also include self-reported information. Such as, ‘on a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to vote in this election?’ They also include people who were too young to vote in the last election, or didn’t vote in the past but are now motivated to do so.
What we won’t be able to answer until election day is, how many people who say they are going to vote will actually show up to the polls.