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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 
Fortune Telling

Atrios has a good post up about the polls and mentions that Matt Yglesias takes Texeira and others to task for focusing on the Gallup poll's obvious bias. Matt says:

The reality is that after a few days of what looked to me like a comeback, the Kerry campaign has once again lost its momentum.


You know, I hate to bring this up, but perhaps it's time to issue a reminder here about political prognostication and instincts. It seems like it was only a few months ago --- and, by gosh it was --- that we heard this:

Do note that, much as Dean's nomination is inevitable, it is also inevitable that at some point in the not-too-distant future, his nomination will cease to look inevitable. Nevertheless, it will still be inevitable as has been clear for some time. When you combine the most impassioned supporters with what's obviously the best-run campaign, and the most money, you're looking at a winner.


As you can see, prognostication is a dangerous game.

The reality is that this race is close. It is NOT clear that Kerry has lost momentum. It is simply unknowable from the polls who has momentum, if anyone, and whether Kerry is ahead by a few points or behind by a few points --- because the race is close. These divergent polls are likely the result of the impact of technology on polling methods finally coming to fruition, a shifting undecided electorate as they finally tune in heavily and some very bad polling methods that don't matter a lot when the race is a blowout. We simply don't know anything more than that the race is within spitting distance for both candidates at this point.

As for political instincts, one of the purposes of calling the damn polls into question is to try to work the refs a little bit. The polls are all over the place and some of it is obviously due to this ridiculous sampling of extra Republican.
Just now Blitzer had Frank Newport on and, needless to say, Blitzer stood up for Gallup and even said he would "vouch" for the poll. But by even airing this controversy it shakes at least some people's faith in the poll and puts Gallup on the defensive. That's how the game is played, folks.





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