The Polls This Year
Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin are important places today. Why? They are the toss-up states in the 2012 Presidential election. This, of course, means they could go to either Obama or Romney. They also combine for 146 electoral votes. Of course, you need 270 electoral votes to win. Some have said that these states could end up being determined by only a few thousand or even hundred votes. This will be the closest election we have seen since 2000. If you remember that one, you certainly remember the drama surrounding it. We will likely see it again. Combine this with the added bonus of Hurricane Sandy popping up days before the election and we have a mess to look forward to. There is a part of me that thinks that this is all just the start of the final chapter in that whole Mayan calendar thing.
There is something else that I want to note here, polls are often way off. I have covered elections where the polls were off by around 20 percent! I have seen candidates who were supposed to lose by several points turn around and win by several points. One is reminded of the 2010 race between incumbent Nevada Senator Harry Reid and challenger Sharron Angle. Reid was behind, according to the Real Clear Politics average, by 2.7 percent. He won the election by 5.6 percent! I must also note that there were cries of foul-play in this one.
Those who have been around a while will remind you that Jimmy Carter was up in the polls by a few points leading into the 1980 election where he lost by a large margin. I also remember covering the 2004 race when a pollster by the name of John Zogby used his status as a somewhat credible source of statistics to push for John Kerry’s victory. During an October 2004 appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” he excitedly announced that Kerry was going to win. It was not only inaccurate but it exposed the fact that biases cannot be avoided in polling. It is something to keep in mind when you read the numbers.
These polls are done on a sample that could be off. If you were to happen to poll 10 out of 100 people and asked them whether Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson was better as “The Joker,” you might be interviewing the wrong people. What if you happened to pick 10 young people? They’d all vote for Heath Ledger. Meanwhile the other, older crowd would say it was Jack Nicholson. They just wouldn’t be represented in the sample. By the way, you might have a few write-in votes for Cesar Romero in this one.
I am still calling this race a toss-up. I guess we’ll only know the real truth when the smoke clears. Whatever the case may be, get out there and vote!