And speaking of using math for bad purposes, a new poll of Arlington voters shows that they support the Texas Rangers‘ $500-million-plus stadium subsidy proposal by a 54-40% margin, while another poll shows that Arlington voters oppose it by a 47-39% margin. Care to guess which poll was conducted by the Vote Yes! Keep The Rangers PAC, and which by Save Our Stadium?
The two polls had a combined margin of error of 8.7%, which isn’t enough to explain a 15% swing in the results. So either polling is garbage (which it sort of is, but let’s set that aside for the moment) or something about the way the two sides asked the question inspired widely skewed results. Let’s start with the pro-stadium poll:
“Now I am going to read you some more details about the proposition, and please tell me, if the election were held today, would you vote YES, IN FAVOR or NO, AGAINST the proposition? The Rangers and the city of Arlington would contribute equally for the one billion dollar ballpark, with both paying five hundred million dollars. The city’s portion is capped at this amount with any additional costs being paid for by the Rangers. The stadium would be a state‐of‐the‐art, air conditioned ballpark with a retractable roof, comfortable seating, and real grass. There will be no new taxes and no increase in taxes to pay for the ballpark. The Arlington portion of the funding would be paid for by the existing half cent sales tax, the existing two percent hotel occupancy tax, and the existing five percent car rental tax that were used for the current Rangers ballpark and are currently being used for the Cowboys stadium. The new stadium would open in five years and keep the Rangers in Arlington until at least 2054.”
That’s a lot of information to absorb before answering, much of it skewed toward the Rangers ownership’s message (comfortable seating, no new taxes, keep the Rangers in Arlington). It’s not quite a push poll — where the goal is less to gauge public opinion than to sway it with the content of the questions (“How do you feel about my opponent beating his wife?”) — but it’s headed in that direction.
And how about the anti-stadium poll?
Proposition 1 on the November ballot is a proposition that will allow the city and the Rangers to levy taxes to pay for the new stadium. Press 1 if you plan to vote yes, press 2 if you plan to vote no, press 3 if you are undecided.
That’s less push-y, certainly, though the pro side would probably gripe that “levy taxes to pay for the new stadium” doesn’t accurately describe the plan, which would actually extend existing taxes. The anti poll excluded cellphones, though, which is increasingly unreliable in a world where so many people don’t have landlines.
In short, we have no idea how Arlington voters feel about the Rangers stadium proposal, other than “it depends on how you ask.” Me, I would have gone with “Do you think it’s worth $500 million in tax money so that Rangers fans can sit in air-conditioning?”, but nobody ever asks me.