Poll-a-Palooza

   Another day, another poll.  This one’s from Quinnipiac U., showing Obama up 5 in Florida.  Yesterday, our NBC/Mason-Dixon poll had McCain up one. The day before, Fox News-Rasmussen reported a similar result.

   A poll a day– is this obsesssive running scoreboard really good for democracy?  (dunno– but politi-nerds like myself enjoy them)

   How can polls have such radically different results?

   The different results are largely due to pollsters’ different assumptions about who will turn out– how to weight responses from the field.  It’s a tough year to forecast, to gauge how many new voters will actually cast ballots, how much enthusiasm in the African-American community will drive turnout, and how successful the campaigns will be at getting their supporters to the polls.

  I checked my 2004 poll file– quaintly, it’s an actual paper file folder, sitting in a file drawer.  Between August 26, 2004 and election day, I had 5 surveys received on line and printed up, in my folder (3 from Mason-Dixon, one Research 2000, and a Strategic Vision).  There may have been a few others I hadn’t printed and saved.

   This year, according to RealClearPolitics.com, there have been 37 polls in Florida since August 26 of this year.  Taken all together, that means about 25,000 Floridians have been surveyed about Obama v. McCain in that time.  18 of the polls show Obama in the lead, 15 show McCain ahead.  None of them have put the margin at greater than 8%.

   The state of the race now?  RealClearPolitics averages the last five statewide polls, which yields a one-point Obama lead.  So– after all that polling– the bottom line is the race in Florida is close.  My bunion could have told you that.

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