Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 29, 2008
POLITICS: Polls in Perspective

We've had wild-swinging polls lately - national polls showing Obama +9 and McCain +4 - but the important thing is not to panic. Polls go up, they go down, and at any rate while the national polls can give you some idea of the direction and momentum in the race, in the end the only polls that matter are on a state-by-state basis, and those really don't get hugely meaningful until after the conventions.

Anyway, this post has an excellent look back at past July 4 Gallup polls. It's a useful reminder that these races can move in a number of different directions, and the one thing they almost never do is finish in November right where they were in July.

I think the race right now is where the bulk of the polls seem to say it is: Obama's winning, but not by a big margin, and he's a long way from putting McCain away, especially in the key swing states. Obviously, you can find people to argue that there's an underlying dynamic underway that will sweep one or the other of them away, and maybe that will look clear in retrospect. But for now, it's still a race. Which is why the Veepstakes buzz (at present, leaning towards Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney on the R side, Tim Kaine on the D side) is being scrutinized so heavily for its impact on particular states and blocs.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:33 PM | Politics 2008 • | Poll Analysis | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Ugh, I find myself agreeing with Crank.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at July 29, 2008 1:57 PM

If I remember correctly, the rule of thumb is wait 10-12 days after the last convention and then look at the polls. That tends to give the most correct view of where the race is. Traditionally, debates have almost no effect on the final results.

Posted by: dch at July 29, 2008 2:26 PM

Which is unfortunate this year, because Obama is not good at all in debates. (Unless the networks decide to let him use a tele-promptor during the debates! I could see ABC/CBS/NBC doing this. They ask a question, then let some Obama staff aide flip through and put up the canned answer.)

Posted by: alex at July 29, 2008 3:29 PM

It's amazing to think McCain is as close as he is. He's a Republican in a year in which no Republican should have any hope of winning, plus the raging Obamagasms in the media...

Posted by: Doc at July 29, 2008 4:00 PM

Despite Obama not being able to pull far enough away from McCain on total vote percentage, Rasmussen consistently has had Obama, with leaner states included, at 273 electoral votes to McCain's 227. That's a lot of ground for McCain to make up, but it's still way early. Similar results for GWB at this time four years ago against Kerry who, like Obama, had plenty of help from the print and mainstream media.

Posted by: CaptainKirk at July 30, 2008 2:04 AM

If Obama picks Kaine, I bet he loses. He should pick Biden. What concerns me is that McCain is trailing in states like Nevada, Montana, and Indiana. It may swing the other way by November, but it shouldn't be close in those types of states.

Posted by: alex at July 30, 2008 12:00 PM

I think Obama's quite beatable, but I haven't seen much sign yet that McCain can put together the kind of aggressive, focused, organized campaign that can turn the tide the way it's turned in previous years. Perhaps that's just because he's needed to hoard his money for the fall, but time will tell.

Posted by: Jerry at July 30, 2008 12:53 PM
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