Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are National Polls Irrelevant?

I will preface this post by saying this was my first attempt at political writing all the way back in 2008, and I believe that the subject matter is very topical in anticipation of the upcoming Republican Primary season. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting bits and pieces of my personal archives. Enjoy!

Everyday on CNN and MSNBC, we see the poll of polls and the daily gallup tracking poll reported on as if they have great significance to the election. Right now Obama has a 2-3 point lead over McCain in the national polls, but what does that mean? National polls are good for telling the feeling of the race. For example, right now they are conveying a lead for obama, which seems to be the consensus among pundits (although since when are pundits credible analysts?). Anyway, I think the case can be made that the national polls are just a temperature taker of the election, otherwise they have no real relevance...seeing as we do not elect presidents on the national popular vote (which democrats learned painfully in 2000) but with electoral votes. I think anyone who wants to see who is ahead should look at state polls in battlegrounds such as Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, so forth and so forth. If you look at the states leaning towards each candidate combined with the states each candidate has firmly in his column (like California for Obama or Texas for McCain), Barack Obama has 243 electoral votes while John McCain has only 189 (a difference of 54 electoral votes). The winner of the election must have 270 electoral votes when all is said and done. When Barack Obama needs only 27 more electoral votes to win (keeping in mind we are still far away from the election and that anything can change), McCain has a steep hill not saying he can't climb it, it's just pretty steep even with republican superstar Sarah Palin. So maybe we should stop paying such close attention to the daily gallup tracking poll and start going to cnn.com and checking out that electoral map.

1 comment:

  1. First, thanks for following the 'Post! I really appreciate that.

    I'd question more than the usefulness of national polls. It looks to me like mathematics is winning out as it always does. Individual politicians may enact this or that, but in the end, the simple arithmetic of cash flow equations will dictate what you can and cannot do.