February 5, 2023

The Veracity Report

Kurt Dillon

OP ED: The Condition of the Texas Gubernatorial Race

CEO Kurt Dillon responds to a letter from a reader that criticizes the way we presented our information in this article

Beto Abbott Kurt Dillon

We recently received a letter from a reader who addressed several concerns about how we gather our information and report it. The letter’s author calmly, but succinctly accuses us of presenting our information in a way that hurts her preferred choice of candidate in the Texas gubernatorial mid-term election, which will ultimately be decided in just a couple of weeks.

To be sure, we receive many letters every day.  Many of those letters are full of praise and accolades, but we also do receive a substantial number consisting of criticisms. While it’s true, you can never please everybody all of the time, we do endeavor to read every letter we get, particularly the heartfelt ones that are actually expressing a legitimate concern and aren’t just some crackpot doing what crackpots do.

Obviously, if we took the time to answer them all, we would get absolutely no work done actually reporting the news. But, occasionally, I come across letters that strike me as completely sincere and which motivate me, or some member of our editorial team to issue a response. This letter, from a Texas reader named Kay,  is one of those letters.

We will publish the letter in its entirety, however, we will remove all of the author’s personal information which she provided in the letter, save for her first name – thank those crackpots again. I’ve also cleaned up the typos which she declared she was worried about and asked us to forgive. They are not only forgiven, Kay, they have been expunged forever – nobody needs to know.

I will provide the text of Kay’s letter first so the readers of this OP-ED can understand where my responses are coming from, and hopefully, if I’m successful, also why. Any errors or inconsistencies that follow are mine, not Kay’s.

 

Kay’s letter begins:

As a 77-year-old native Texan, I am most curious as to how individuals are selected for our polls.  I am a consistent Democratic voter who has never ever been polled on any election.  I think your publication of the poll numbers is deceptive and may well cause some voters to refrain from voting in a “lost cause scenario.” Lies and corruption permeate our government today and I am sick of it.

You state in your mantra that you are committed to speaking the truth.  How is this possible when you are so easily deceived by so-called reputable polls? 

If you really wanted to be unbiased, you would find out who has invested huge amounts of money into the election.  Abbott is bought and paid for by the gun lobby, the oil lobby and rich white men who want to maintain their power over those of different races and ethnicities, not to mention power over women.

I dare say you are a rather young idealistic person who has good honorable intentions but has never really experienced the negative sides of life.  I obtained a BA from UT in microbiology in 1966 and worked in medical research at MD Anderson on three occasions, St.Louis University, the University of Vermont, and Yale University.  During my married years, I helped set up two clinical laboratories, only to lose them to powerful businessmen through naivety and ignorance.  I have lost everything several times in my lifetime and know what it is to be totally broke.

The emergence of medical issues ultimately forced me to change my field of endeavor and I began working in human services for the last half of my career.  I worked with the poor, in child protective services, and ultimately with persons with mental retardation.  I served as a program director for group homes as well as directing a recycling center for the clients in these homes to provide vocational training.

A number of years ago my medical issues forced an early retirement and I was forced to go on social security at the age of 51.

There is a multitude of experiences that have opened my eyes to true reality here in Texas.  If you would like a senior perspective of things based on actual experience, I would love to present my opinion on your platform. 

I have had many of my opinions published in the Austin American.  I also authored and coauthored seven scientific publications and have had my poems published in various books.  I am rather opinionated and will speak my truth as I see it.  If I am wrong about anything, I have no problem admitting my error. 

I have had experience with both sides of the law, once being convicted of theft by check in the 70s while married to a man who was not as he pretended. My sentence was adjudicated but nonetheless, I spent three days in jail and experienced that scenario. Ironically my father was in law enforcement much of his life so I have seen all sides of this as well 

Needless to say, I know a great deal about life. To me, honesty is of prime importance. Hence I cannot stand liars like Abbott and his criminal triumvirate. If he is reelected, it will be a great loss for Texas.

I just happened to notice your invitation to write opinions for your news report.  I would love to do so.  My name is XXXXXX Kay XXXXXX.  I live at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, where I have resided for over 25 years. My email address is XXXXXXXXXXXXX, and my cell number is XXXXXXXXXXXX. 

My eyesight is the pits due to genetic disease and I no longer drive. We have no viable internet service out here in the pines, so I rely on my smartphone until we get decent service. My home is about 7 miles from XXXXXXXX, in very tall pine trees. It is absolutely beautiful but we do have our limitations as well. Emails are the best for me if you should wish to respond.

Nonetheless, I definitely think you should do a new article on the poll numbers, as I think you have hurt Beto with your article. If you wish to be unbiased, you shouldn’t do this.

Please excuse any typos as this phone makes some very weird corrections at times. I wish you the best and pray for peace, happiness, and blessings for all.  May truth prevail!

 

Sincerely,

Kay 

 

Wow, what a letter. No matter what your party affiliation, if you weren’t at least slightly moved by the heartfelt sincerity and emotion within that letter, you should probably visit your cardiologist pretty quickly.

Now I will do my best to address each of the issues that Kay expressed in her missive.

About those poll numbers. I’ve actually been meaning to address this for some time since we get a ton of comments on our polling articles from people who claim that they’ve never been polled so how can the poll have any value unless everyone is polled?

Polling is based on the mathematical principles of odds and probabilities. These principles are used today in all manner of scientific applications where an experiment is important but where it is also impossible to test every single subject individually.

To be sure, there are entire college courses that are taught on this subject which we cannot address here with anything close to enough detail, however, I am including a hyperlink to a pretty comprehensive article that I think should sum it up adequately for most people not seeing a masters degree in the subject.

The article,

Sample Size and its Importance in Research

was originally published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, on January 6, 2020, by Chittaranjan Andrade.

The entire article is relatively short, perfectly on point, and extremely well written. To gain a more intricate understanding of scientific sample sizing, which is the entire methodology that substantiates political polling and why it is important, I sincerely suggest taking the required ten minutes or so necessary to read the article thoroughly.

In the meantime, for our purposes here today, I will quote only one small excerpt from the piece that I believe sufficiently explains the science of sample size and why it is important.

In that article, Andrade explains:

Studies are conducted on samples because it is usually impossible to study the entire population. Conclusions drawn from samples are intended to be generalized to the population, and sometimes to the future as well. The sample must therefore be representative of the population. This is best ensured by the use of proper methods of sampling. The sample must also be adequate in size – in fact, no more and no less.

This means that, if the poll is intended to represent the population of the state of Texas, the polling agent must endeavor to determine all of the demographics of the state that they can and establish a sample that is directly proportionate in ratio to that of the whole.

For example, (I’m not using real figures here) if the bureau of the census declares that 47% of the state of Texas are biologically women, then in order for the polling sample to be true and accurate, 47% of the polling sample must also be biologically female. Likewise, if 55% of the state is ethnically Hispanic, exactly 55% of the polling sample must also be ethnically Hispanic for the sample to be truly representative of the population of the state.

For this reason, quality polling agencies that are both unbiased and which take what they do seriously will always include a paragraph or two which explains the demographics of the sample used to conduct the survey. I will even go one step further here, by saying that if you encounter a poll that does not have this, you are probably best suited to disregard that poll as not being professionally conducted.

Further, when it comes to the actual selection of people to be polled, many of the names and contact information for the respondents are found on mailing lists and previous jury duty rolls. This is because the criteria that make a person eligible to vote in America are very similar to the criteria by which jurors are selected and asked to serve.

Convicted felons, immigrants that are not yet naturalized, and people who are under 18 years of age, are just some of the criteria that would prevent someone from being called for jury duty, as well as from being asked to participate in polling surveys since, in most states, those people are prohibited from voting.

This brings me to my next point, which is, the legal makeup of the respondents needs to be consistent with the voting laws in the area the poll is intended to represent. For example, some states allow convicted felons to vote as long as they have satisfied all of the requirements ordered by the court and are no longer on any type of Probation or Parole. Also, there are some states that require those people to apply to the courts after their sentences are complete, to request that their rights be restored, while in others, the right is automatically restored once any sentence and term of probation or parole are completed.

This is an important distinction because, if a polling agency is conducting a poll in a state where voting rights are not automatically restored, then that poll must not include any convicted felons. If it does, the validity of the poll is compromised because the respondents to the survey do not actually represent the same criteria as the people who will be voting in the actual election.  This is the goal of every legitimate poll – to create a respondent demographic that will as closely as possible, mirror the demographics of the people who will be voting in the actual election.

This includes people who are not registered to vote, and never have been. This is actually a substantially large segment of the population and, not surprisingly, these people have opinions too and often love to voice them publicly in things like social media polls.

The problem is, despite their often feverish opinions, these people have no intention of voting and therefore cannot be allowed to participate in a legitimate poll. This is why all legitimate polls will also explain whether they were conducted among “Likely Voters” or “Registered Voters” with likely voters being people who are legally eligible to vote, and who claim they intend to vote in the upcoming election. While registered voters are people whose names were simply pulled off the state’s voter registration logs and may not have any particular desire to vote in that upcoming election, even though they are registered and eligible.

I included all of that to say this; since you accuse me of being “deceived by so-called reputable polls,” this is why we at The Veracity Report are extremely particular about which polls we use as source material for our articles. Also, I feel just as important, we ALWAYS provide links in our articles directly to the polls we use as source material. This is so that every reader can retrace the steps we took in formulating our interpretations of the data expressed in those polls – basically all the best parts of the scientific method – if it isn’t repeatable by anyone, anywhere, it isn’t science.

Further, very rarely will you ever see a Veracity Report polling article that relies on only one poll. We only do that when there is only one poll available covering a particular race, but in today’s day and age, that is very rare.

We do this because it is a personal preference of mine as Editor-in-chief. I feel that when two or more independent polls agree and come to similar or identical conclusions, each with its own set of carefully chosen respondents, the credibility of the respondent selection process, the validity of the polling data, and the reliability of the conclusions are improved exponentially and are far more likely to be predictive of the actual voting outcome. This is not a perfect science, as few are, but it’s as close as we can get to it, and that’s almost always good enough. This is the reason why all polls have a stated margin of error.

Because of all of this, I can assure you, neither The Veracity Report as a media outlet, nor myself as a person, are deceived by any polls. We simply ignore any that don’t live up to the high standards I just explained, just as I suggest everyone should ignore those ‘less than reputable’ pollsters.

In your next section, Kay, you suggest that if we “really wanted to be unbiased, you would find out who has invested huge amounts of money into the election.”

I can assure you that all reputable media outlets do this, however, in modern election campaigning, it is extremely common for even local candidates to receive money from other cities, other states, and even, in many cases, other countries. This makes the tracking of the money, for anyone not active in law enforcement, extremely difficult.

It also means that, with the exception of whistleblower-type scenarios, we in the media are handcuffed to relying on the public forms each candidate is required to share each month that shows the source of all of their campaign contributions, how much each was, and the running total of what they have available to spend.

In a perfect world, this should be enough. Sadly, many candidates, and particularly their power-driven campaign managers who aren’t running for any political office and who actually handle these disclosures, often fudge the numbers as well as the sources. What’s more, unscrupulous and extremely biased individuals and disreputable media sources often grossly exaggerate and even outright lie as to the possible campaign contribution donors of many candidates.

Along that line, in your letter, you go on to claim that “Abbott is bought and paid for by the gun lobby, the oil lobby, and rich white men who want to maintain their power over those of different races and ethnicities, not to mention power over women.”

That certainly is a strong opinion, however, it is only that, an opinion. As such, it would be completely unethical if we were to draft an article and publish it based on that type of conjecture and hyperbole.

I could very easily strike down each and every one of the allegations you made here, and even show irrefutable evidence to disprove each of them. I won’t. Not because I don’t want to educate both you and the general public to the truth, but because, after almost 30 years in the business of investigative reporting and the last ten as a chief political correspondent, I know from experience, any attempt to do so would be futile.

People who are that steadfast in their beliefs won’t change them even if God Himself told them to, and I for one, try not to talk just to hear myself talk as often as possible. The fact remains that almost every candidate receives money from big corporations that lean on both sides of the aisle. It is very possible that the same candidate will receive campaign contributions from the My Pillow Company as well as Starbucks. Two companies with such diametrically opposed political positions donating large sums to the same candidate? Absolutely. It literally happens every day, and your two front-running candidates in Texas are no different than anybody else on that front.

The comment regarding Greg Abbott being ‘a white man trying to take power from minorities and women,’ however, I take personal exception to. First of all, Francis O’Rourke is also an old white man, even though he has tried to deceive many into thinking he is somehow Hispanic or Native American. He is neither, and that has been satisfactorily established long ago.

I could easily go on to highlight O’Rourke’s abundant criminal career as well as his lackluster campaign legacy of losing time and time again. I could also bring to your attention what O’Rourke has done with the campaign funds he accumulated during each of his two prior failed attempts to achieve public office. I won’t do that either. Once again, the reason is that you won’t care. You have embraced your candidate and nothing anyone says nor any proof they might show you will make any difference in your mind.

You have become polarized, just as many other Americans have over the past two decades. Nothing to be ashamed of, it has happened to a lot of people, but it is what it is and that fact really limits the type of open dialogue any two similarly affected people can have regarding election politics.

On the topic of women’s rights, however, I must make clear, not necessarily for you along, Kay, but for any of our readers who may encounter this OP-ED in the future.

Neither the SCOTUS reversal of Roe v Wade this past June, nor the support for that reversal by any government official in any way is a function of limiting women’s rights. How can I say this? Because it is 100% true. This is a factual statement I am making here, not my opinion, nor that of my media company.

First, there is not, nor has there ever been, a Constitutional right afforded to anyone that they have the right or the privilege to indiscriminately take the life of another human. Indeed, many argue that indiscriminately killing a puppy or a kitten used to be more illegal than killing a baby human, and they had a valid point.

Be that as it may, the reversal of Roe v Wade did not take away a single right of anyone. Again, that is a factual statement, not an opinion. The new case law of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization which systematically overturned the decision in Roe, merely follows the edict in the Constitution which clearly explains that the laws of the land are to be empowered to each individual state to handle as their respective chosen electorates should see fit.

The bottom line, each state now has the unimpeded right to its own laws governing the topic of abortion. This is exactly what the Constitution of the United States requires. Even the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg often quipped that the original case of Roe v Wade was decided poorly and the resulting stare decisis was “bad law” – her words, not mine.

That being said, it is now a foregone conclusion that many states will maintain Pre Dobbs abortion laws while many other states will institute limitations on abortion and, in some cases, complete bans. We all have the option of living in, or not living in each of those states. To be sure, if we don’t like the laws of one state, we just relocate to one that is more in line with our personal value system.

This has been happening because of countless laws and issues for more than 240 years now – since at least the time the Constitution of the United States was ratified and the new government began on March 4th, 1789.

What disturbs me most, however, is the liberal propaganda campaign that insists Republicans are going to invoke ‘a nationwide ban against abortion’ if they gain power.

Not only is this completely inaccurate, but even if it were 100% true and this was the GOP agenda, it would not be humanly possible. Why? Because the SCOTUS in Dobbs has just ruled that the power to decide that issue must reside with each state.

As such, no law can be passed now that would now be Constitutionally upheld under challenge which would allow any federal abortion policy to be implemented. Again, these are facts, not opinions. Even more important, this speaks ot the lies of the current administration who are adamantly misinforming American voters that they will ‘codify Roe’ immediately upon maintaining majorities in both chambers of Congress.

This is the most egregious lie of all. Just like the decision in Dobbs prevents Republicans from passing any federal abortion ban, it similarly prevents Democrats from passing any federal ‘Roe codification.’

Why? Because the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in Dobbs that ANY FEDERAL LAW governing the implication of abortion is patently unconstitutional. Because of the separation of powers clause in the Constitution, no other legal or legislative body has the ability or the power to overturn that edict, except the same Supreme authority that issued it. Once again, that is an irrefutable fact, not an opinion,

In your next paragraph, Kay, you proffer:

I dare say you are a rather young idealistic person who has good honorable intentions but has never really experienced the negative sides of life.  I obtained a BA from UT in microbiology in 1966 and worked in medical research at MD Anderson on three occasions, St.Louis University, the University of Vermont, and Yale University.  During my married years, I helped set up two clinical laboratories, only to lose them to powerful businessmen through naivety and ignorance.  I have lost everything several times in my lifetime and know what it is to be totally broke.

I can assure you, my dear Kay, I am neither young nor idealistic. And while I do have nothing but the best of intentions, I too am human and make more than my share of mistakes. As for experiencing the negative sides of life, I can offer that, as a youth, I once had to live in a home with my family, while it was under foreclosure, with no electricity and no running water, for almost six months.

If you’re curious, that was in 1984, really not all that long ago, and I was 13 at the time, so I was very cognizant of what was going on around me. It forced me to quit school and get a job to help support my unconventionally (at that time) blended nuclear family of my maternal grandparents, my mom’s sister, my mom, and myself. I promise, in that era, we redefined what it meant to be poor.

At that time, I, like my entire family, was a staunch Democrat because I, like them, was taught that Democrats were all for the poor and disadvantaged. After getting not one, but two jobs, we overcame that dilemma, my mother got back on her feet and got three jobs, my grandparents began receiving their Social Security checks, my aunt – her disability check, and I continued to work both jobs for some time to make sure we were out of the gutter.

Once all of that was in the past, (circa 1988 – I was 17) I found a high school in New Jersey that would allow me to take a placement test and, if I passed, would be inserted into the next senior class in time to attend classes for one year and graduate with a traditional High School Diploma instead of a GED.

Just before graduating, I took the fabled SAT college aptitude test and scored 1560 out of a possible 1600 at that time.

After graduating, I attended several smaller local colleges and universities across Long Island, NY, working to get up a nice GPA when I finally set sights on my dream and applied to Columbia in New York City – yes, that Ivy League, Columbia.

To my surprise, I was accepted and went on to earn two master’s degrees in Forensic Psychology and English with an emphasis in Journalism.

I say all of this for one point only, Kay, I too started from the bottom. I had nothing handed to me, and my life’s sob story is just as sad as the next person’s. I almost never mention any of that for one major reason – none of it defines me.

I am simply the aggregate sum of my experiences, combined with the genetic predisposition for expressing the truth and a passion for uncovering it, especially when others take great pains to hide it. Nothing was ever handed to me, Kay, I worked for everything I’ve ever had from the ground up and along the way, I saw firsthand how the Democratic party never practiced what it preached, which led to my eventual disillusionment with the party and my conversion to becoming a political Independent in 1997.

We are always looking for good, independent correspondents here at The Veracity Report. as you saw in the automated response you initially got when you sent this email, it’s nothing that will get you rich anytime soon, but every little bit does help.

If you follow the guidelines for acceptance as an IC that you received in your info packet, I’m sure we will be happy to add you to the 57 other IC’s currently working with us across the country and around the world.

As always, even if you don’t decide to complete the process of becoming an IC with The Veracity Report, I just wanted to take this opportunity to explain how emotionally and viscerally your letter affected me, and to address your concerns personally. I also want to thank you sincerely for reading our articles, and for taking the time to write to us about your experience with one of our pieces.

Best wishes always,

Kurt Dillon

Editor-in-chief & CEO

The Veracity Report

a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wild Orchid Media & Entertainment Network (WOMEN)