HolyCoast: How to Watch the Polls

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Watch the Polls

FiveThirtyEight has some good advice on how to watch the polls as we move into the general election campaign.  There are 12 points in all, but for now this one probably is the most meaningful:
6. Keep paying attention to Mr. Obama’s approval ratings. In the early stages of general election campaigns, a president’s approval ratings have often been at least as accurate a guide to his eventual performance as the head-to-head numbers. Thus, for at least the next couple of months, I would pay as much attention to Mr. Obama’s approval ratings as his head-to-head polls against Mr. Romney.

It is probably slightly better to look at Mr. Obama’s net approval rating — his approval less his disapproval — than the approval rating alone.
Obama is sub-50% in most polls and has been down as low as 43%. Those aren't re-elect numbers.

I still think there will be a "Carter" effect as we get close to the election. Carter and Reagan were still pretty close in the polls until the final stages of the election. The actual results were a completely blowout. When people finally had to make a choice they just couldn't stand the idea of another four years of an incompetent president. I think the same will happen this year.

And once you're in the voting booth nobody can call you a racist for voting for the other guy.  The pressure for political correctness is off.

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