For those paying attention, “poll averages” is the new buzz term. Nobody in the blogosphere is talking about it yet, but it is a significant change from previous elections. Do you remember the talk of “poll averages” with Bush-Kerry or Bush-Gore or Clinton-Dole? Yeah, me neither. Yet, everywhere you go online anymore Journolists are talking about poll averages and what a dead heat this race is. It’s the biggest bunch baloney I’ve ever seen as far as polls are concerned. I suspect it’s an attempt to provide Obama an assist by making this race look closer than it actually is. The press has gotten slightly more subtle at helping him out this year that they were in 2008. Now that you’ve read this, it should be a cinch for you to start picking up on this trend.
But I challenge this notion with a buzz phrase I’d like to see take off: The Walker Margin. The Walker Margin is 7%, which is the margin by which he won, while the exit polls showed a dead heat. This discrepancy still has not been explored fully since it happened. Some of the pre-race polls saw this margin coming, but in the final days before the election, a desperate attempt was made to rewrite this narrative. The noise on the manufactured narrative got ratcheted way up on election day, as report after report showed the race a dead heat according to exit polls.
Evolution is fast in politics.
This trend was immediately adopted by the Obama campaign, which benefited from the Bloomberg outlier poll that showed Obama with a 13 point lead. This is when the attention shifted from individual polls to “poll averages.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Since then, polls have been all over the place. When they are averaged, the polls do indeed show a dead heat. Thus the media’s adoption of “poll averages” as the new norm. It paints such a rosy picture for their man Obama.
Increasingly, I’m looking at the popular vote, and I’m not alone. I’m also looking at behavior. Let’s be clear: games are being played by pollsters and the people reporting on them. The truth is not being shared with the public, and a comparative study of polls from now & 2008 while watching the behavior of candidates may well give the clearest picture yet.
Team Obama’s desperate Gift Registry idea (so outlandish it got covered by Snopes) and the conference call to big donors yesterday that was shared with the media (a big ass deal, ftr) both suggest that Obama’s internals are making him desperate and blue. On the other hand, Team Romney’s/conservative’s apparent willingness to continue to play political games via Twitter and other social media suggest he feels he has time to waste, and is busy building bungalows in Obama’s and his supporter’s heads in which he can live rent-free. Psychological warfare is a powerful tool.
With this reality, following polls or poll averages is a futile waste of time. From an earlier link:
All of this time and effort spent parsing state-level polls would be better spent more closely examining the national polling data, particularly looking at how the candidates are performing now compared with Obama and John McCain in 2008, and examining how likely the members of specific (and potentially decisive) demographic groups are to actually vote.
This feels right to me. And since I’m on record as saying that Team Obama will not be able to turn out their base or their new recruits from 2008 in the same numbers, a comparative study coupled with an intuitive understanding of the behavior of the candidates seems likeliest to give a fuller picture.
This thing is not over yet, not by a longshot. Despite what Journolists are telling you, the SCOTUS decision on healthcare is far more likely to give Romney a boost than it is Obama, no matter what instant (and I predict short lived) boost it may offer him. On that issue, the media has it wrong too: It’s not the middle class that will be hurt as much it is the working class, and Obama already has problems with them. The middle class will care when the bill kicks in, well after the election, and they begin to lose their job-secured insurance with no attendant bump in pay, or when they find out the limits the bill has placed on their healthcare choices. But that’s a matter for another post. I’m curious to know if other readers have been noticing this move to “poll averages” and what they think of it.