Poll on Various Bexar County Issues & People Released
KSAT joined with the Rivard Report in conducting a poll on various Bexar County concerns and some of our top people, to give everyone an idea about what to expect in the 2020 election. Sheriff Javier Salazar, as an elected official, was included in the list. He has to be pretty happy with the results of the poll since KSAT’s article says he has a 59% approval rating and only a 19% disapproval rating. That’s pretty good. Anyone would be happy with a rating like that but let’s take a deeper look at what the actual poll said.
The Rivard Report Poll
If you look at the actual Rivard Report poll you will see that the results are broken down into five categories. Those categories are: strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, strongly disapprove, don’t know. Salazar’s numbers broke down like this:
27% Strongly Approve
33% Somewhat Approve
10% Somewhat Disapprove
9% Strongly Disapprove
22% Don’t Know
There is some rounding off which explains why Salazar is at 59% approval, not 60%. Now let’s discuss some facts of life. It is easier to move someone from approval to disapproval than it is to move someone from disapproval to approval. What this poll says to me is that 33% of the people responding are soft in their support and can have their minds changed by a savvy opponent.
Then there’s the 22% of people who say they don’t know. The more common human nature is that people will remember and be influenced by negative information more easily than they are by positive information. We expect people to do their jobs well so just pointing out a time or two when you did your job well doesn’t leave as much of an impression as the times that you didn’t do your job well.
What this all breaks down to for me is that 55% of the people in this poll are susceptible to having their opinions changed or created by a skillful opponent’s campaign.
Questions About the Poll
The poll only spoke to 651 likely voters. They reached those voters by phone (cell and land line) and the internet. That was interesting for me. How many people answer a call from a number they don’t recognize? How did they pick the internet people? I’m not saying anything is wrong with this but the group they were able to reach could be over representative of one demographic.
Another thing I have concerns with is the way they list the margin of error. According to the Rivard Report, “Margin of sampling error +/- 4.0% at the 95% confidence level.” I’m no statistician and don’t pretend to be. I may be getting this completely wrong and if so I apologize. But if you have a 95% confidence level doesn’t that mean that they don’t have confidence in the remaining 5%? In other words, it’s error territory? And if that’s the case, isn’t the real margin of error +/- 9.0%? I realize no poll ever wants to list a margin of error of plus or minus 9% but it sure seems like that is the reality with this poll.
The Real Picture
If what I said above is on the mark, then what are we really looking at? It looks like, to me, that Sheriff Salazar can have a strong approval rating as high as 36% or as low as 18%. The people who are soft in their support, the ones listed as somewhat approve, could be as high as 42% or as low as 24%. The people who somewhat disapprove of him could be as high as 19% or as low as 1% which is statistically unlikely. The people who strongly disapprove of him could be as high as 18% or as low as 0%, again, statistically unlikely. And finally, the people who don’t know could be as high as 31% or as low as 13%. But as I’ve pointed out, some may fall within the margins but are statistically unlikely to be a reality. In addition, polls don’t take human nature into account.
Naturally the strategy for Sheriff Salazar has to be to avoid and suppress as much negative press as possible and to focus on the positive. We are already seeing some of this. Salazar is getting in front of the camera with every positive story he can. It’s probably a wise move for him not to go to any of the debates. Every candidate would be attacking him, as they should, and he is not strong with coming up with responses on the fly. And thanks to KSAT, Salazar has the appearance of having strong approval which gives him another advantage. There are a lot of people who will vote for the person that looks like he/she is going to win because they want to be able to say they voted for the winner. These poll numbers will push those ‘winning is everything’ kind of people toward Salazar.
For his opponents the strategy needs to be to keep hammering Salazar with all the things that have gone wrong under his administration particularly at the Bexar County Jail. They need those soft areas and the ones who don’t know, to hear the negative things about the Salazar administration. Salazar has the advantage of easily getting press due to his position but the others are candidates too. They need to be willing to offer their opinions to the press otherwise all the public will hear is the spin Salazar puts on it. And if Salazar doesn’t go to any debates, they need to hit him hard on cowardice and inability to defend the mess he has created.
Can the negativity against Salazar backfire? Absolutely. Can Salazar’s attempt to avoid facing his opponents backfire? Absolutely. But politics is not for the faint of heart. Not if you want to win.