18 November 2007

Numbers numbers numbers...

I've been following the polling for the Democratic race for the presidential nomination ever since this absurdly long campaign got kicked off. Now, I know next to nothing about American politics, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody else from gassing off about it, so here's my best shot, in brief.

First of all, many of the polls continue to include Al Gore in the results. This strikes me as somewhat confusing. Numbers are available excluding Al Gore as well, and those numbers by my calculation are not simply a matter of dumping every respondent who chooses him; rather, when they knock him out of the numbers they must be distributing his supporters' second choices. I don't think it makes sense for pollsters to keep including Gore as an option, except as a normative choice to keep voters thinking about global warming (which, unfortunately, I don't think is the primary motivation here).

Judging by a lot of recent polls, even pooling Obama and Edwards' supporters together doesn't top Clinton, though I presume it puts them within the margin of error. On that note, the N for most of the polls seems pretty small, so the margins of error are substantial (for example, the most recent Gallup poll has a margin of +/-5%). All this to say: Obama'd better hope that some of the other candidates throw in the towel and jump on his bandwagon before too many primaries are decided. As for Edwards, if I were facing these numbers I'd start shopping around for a VP deal.

On the plus side, maybe, for Obama (and Edwards), the latest polls show undecideds at 9, 10, 12, 14, and so on. In general, these numbers are for Democrats/Democratic leaners. Which brings up a final interesting point: I hope somebody is watching the numbers for all likely Democratic primary voters in the states that allow Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries.

1 comment:

sossux said...

But dude, the national polls don't matter. The early primaries and caucuses create bandwagons. There's a statistical three-way tie between the Democrats in Iowa right now. That could blow the race wide open. Plus, Obama is trending upwards right now although that may simply be an artifact of Hillary blowing the Philly debate.