The WSJ’s John Fund the other day:
…Some Democrats claim new polls by Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times showing Sen. McCain trailing by 15 points in each seal the deal on an Obama presidency. But both polls appear to be outliers. Other polls show the race to be close.Red State reminds us:
Both surveys polled registered, not likely, voters. Normally, only two-thirds of those end up casting ballots, and nonvoters lean Democratic.
Second, Democrats had a 14-point advantage in Newsweek's sample, and a 17-point advantage in the Times poll, with Republicans making up only 22% of respondents. That's an unusually low number. Most other polls have the party ID gap with a significantly smaller Democratic edge. …
The day the Democratic convention ended in San Francisco in 1984, the Newsweek poll showed Walter Mondale 18 points ahead of President Ronald Reagan.Some people have used the 1984 Newsweek post-convention poll finding to question the current Newsweek and LAT polls.
From the Sept. 17, 1984 NY Times:
President Reagan and Vice President Bush lead their Democratic opponents, Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine A. Ferraro, by 18 percentage points, a Newsweek magazine poll released Saturday showed.And from uselectionsatlas.org the actual 1984 presidential popular vote:
Among those polled, 57 percent said they will vote for Mr. Reagan compared to 39 percent who prefer Mr. Mondale. (emphasis added)
Some 81 percent of those polled agree with Mr. Mondale that taxes will have to rise next year, but 57 percent say the Republicans will be better able to keep the country prosperous. Only 30 percent believe Mr. Mondale could do the job.
For the Newsweek poll, the Gallup Organization interviewed 1,055 people nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Reagan 59 percent – Mondale 41 percent (percentages rounded to the nearest whole number)So what to make of Newsweek’s and the LAT’s recent poll findings?
I’ll go with what Fund said at the start of his column:
Some pundits claim John McCain has no chance of beating Barack Obama. "The current bundle of economic troubles should doom any Republican hoping to succeed George Bush," says NBC's Chris Matthews. "It's almost impossible to believe that another Republican could get elected," insists Katty Kay, the BBC's Washington-based correspondent.What about you?
They need to better understand the rhythms of presidential campaigns and show more humility in a year that's been chock full of political surprises.
Fund’s entire column’s here; here’s the Red State post; the NYT article; and the uselectionsatlas.org page for the ’84 presidential vote.