Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gallup Daily: Vindication?

Having spent the past few days questioning the polls by Newsweek (Obama +15) and LATimes (Obama +12), today I was out of pocket when the latest Gallup daily tracking poll went online, showing the race now a 45%-45% dead heat between Barack Obama and John McCain.

What this means is that, contrary to such Obama triumphalists as Dave Weigel, far from turning into a blowout victory for the Democrat, the presidential contest now appears to be getting closer. Indeed, given that McCain has gained 4 points and Obama lost 3 points since June 9, one might see this latest Gallup poll as evidence of a slow-motion McCain surge. (Hey, the old man's 71, he can't whup that youngster overnight, y'know.)

Moreover, I'm pleased to see my previous skepticism echoed (and quoted) by Ed Morrisey, Tammy Bruce and Greg Paterico. The McCain campaign's polling company, Opinion Strategies, also pushed back today against the LATimes poll's methodology.

So, now that my skepticism appears to be at least temporarily vindicated, let me point out that I'm not necessarily saying McCain will win, nor am I denying the possibility that Newsweek and LATimes have picked up a trend that Gallup somehow missed.

What I am saying is that it's way too early for anyone to declare Obama a winner on the basis of one or two anomalous poll results. In past elections -- not just recent presidential elections, but elections at all different levels going back many years -- polls have generally tended to overstate the level of support for Democrats.

Therefore, given the roughly 50-50 partisan trend in recent years, it isn't surprising that most polls show Obama leading by around 4% to 5% in June. And I don't care what the polls say, or how much money the guy's expecting to raise, or how much Hope he inspires in young liberals, Obama had better be prepared for a close-fought campaign that boils down to a handful of key swing states on Election Day. If he heeds his recklessly enthusiastic advisers and spreads his resources too thin in an overambitious "50 state strategy," Obama will look like a world-class chump on Nov. 5.

BTW, shout-out to Stu Rothenberg, whom I met today at the CNN Washington bureau. For some reason, I initially mistook him for Jeffrey Toobin. My apologies, Mr. Rothenberg, but all CNN pundits look alike to me. I have the same problem with Fox News anchor babes. I can't tell Martha MacCallum from Megyn Kelly.

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