different kinds of jobs of equal value.” Even so, Sidney Hacker, one of the interviewers, does not believe all the people understood the question. “About half the people who responded yes added, ‘Oh, I’m for Equal Pay.’ We were told not to second guess people, but I think there was some misunderstanding of this question.” Dr. Martha Williams, one of the program directors, agrees. “But there was no doubt from our survey,” she said, “that people think women aren’t getting enough pay.” There was strong support on this question among all groups surveyed. Even though men were more likely to have a problem with it, over 65 percent supported it. Almost 80 percent of women supported the issue. Blacks and ported it most strongly, but 70 percent of Anglos supported it as well. Nor was there a big difference by political party. Over 70 percent of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and those without party identification supported comparable worth. Not surprisingly, over 90 percent of the people wanted to see education programs on alcohol and drug abuse in the schools. Only 1.5 percent had no opinion. Perhaps more of a shock was that 78.7 percent of those polled wanted sex ‘education in the schools. “People knew what it meant,” Dr. Williams said. Only 3.3 percent had no opinion or didn’t know. The lower this figure is, according to the researchers, the more likely that people understood the question. The question itself doesn’t use any euphemisms. The people were asked: “Should the public schools offer sex education or not?” The survey also indicated public support for programs to increase adult school care for children of working stricter laws against driving while results favored state support for day care programs, although substantially more How good is this survey in accurately predicting what Texas citizens think? Dr. Williams believes the data are as accurate as any survey results. The program used standard polling procedures. Although the poll was not completely balanced by race, with only 14 percent Hispanic respondents and nine percent black, this is a more likely mix of people who vote. The interviewers polled only Texas citizens. To ensure the highest rate of Hispanic response, the question was, “Are you eligible to register to vote?” The high rate of registered voters, 83.3 percent of the people polled, and using a phone poll itself increases the likelihood that the respondents were politically aware. When asked why there was such a discrepancy between what legislators think their constituents support and this survey, Dr. Williams replied, “I think it’s a good example of the difference in public opinion, and what legislators hear.” One thing this survey could not measure was the depth of commitment to these issues. It does not indicate whether the people polled would write or call their legislators. We don’t know how many voted in the last election, and whether they asked candidates their position on these issues before they voted. We do know that “Grassroots Texans” aren’t automatically rejecting taxes or social spending or issues such as comparable worth and sex education in the schools. Copies of the LBJ School survey are available from the Office of the Dean, School of Social Work, the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, at a cost of $7. WE HAVE THE numbers. We have the strength, and together, we can do anything,” State Rep. Lena Guerrero told Chicano students recently at the University of Texas. That sounds a little like the usual old political rhetoric but the numbers show that Guerrero is absolutely right. Chicano voters could call the tune that Texas candidates dance to. There are 1,050,000 Mexican Americans registered to vote in Texas, including 200,000 who registered to vote in 1986. In the most recent gubernatorial election, a total of 3.4 million votes were cast. It’s easy to see that a major Hispanic turnout could have a powerful influence on Texas elections. Mary Lenz is a frequent Observer contributor. She lives in Austin. But so far that “potencia” the potential power has not been realized. Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez was the first Hispanic ever elected to statewide office, and that didn’t happen until November, 1986. Despite the fact that Mexican Americans make up fully one fifth of the population, only 5.6 percent of Texas city council members are Chicanos. Fifty percent of Texas first graders are Mexican American, yet Mexican Americans hold only 6.6 percent of all school board seats statewide, according to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ruben Bonilla, Jr., state chairman of the Mexican American Democrats, characterizes the attitude of most politicians as: “Go have a taco with a Chicano and you’ll get their vote.” Republicans were aware of the importance of Hispanic numbers in Texas as early as the 1960s, when Nixon lost Texas twice possibly because of the Mexican American vote. In 1960, Kennedy carried Texas with 46,000 votes, including 85 percent of the Mexican American vote. Hubert Humphrey carried Texas by 40,000 votes in 1968. Tony Castro wrote in Chicano Power that a shift as small as five percent in the Mexican American vote that year could have given Nixon Texas’ 26 electoral votes. In the most recent election, the GOP lured 33 percent of the Chicano vote away from Attorney General Jim Mattox by running Roy Barrera, although they failed to capture more than 13 percent of the Hispanic vote for Gov. Bill Clements, Southwest Voter Registration Project figures say. Yet Texas Republican leadership turned right around and passed a resolution calling for an English-as-theofficial-language law, a measure considered insulting by many Mexican Americans. The move raised questions about just how seriously the GOP takes Hispanic voting power. This is not to deny that some progress has been made. Willie Velasquez, director of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, said the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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