The Poll You’ll Be Hearing About All Day And Why You Shouldn’t Care

One of the reasons most people are so skeptical of polls is that the media tends to promote polls that seem to show shocking results. If you have ten polls that show a two point race and the eleventh poll shows one of the candidates up by fifteen points, guess what ends up on the news? Candidate X up by 11!

The reality is that sometimes pollsters screw up or they end up with unusual responses from a large number of their participants and you get results like today’s Washington Post poll that shows Obama up nationally 52 to 43 among likely voters.

Is that spread real? No, not at all. You can tell that if you look at the other polls from roughly the same time period,

In reality, Obama probably has a 3-5 point lead over McCain. That’s something McCain can definitely overcome if he does well in the debates and gets back to knocking Obama’s block off.

On the other hand, if you had to pick somebody’s numbers to have right now, they would definitely be Obama’s. The polls just aren’t quite as bad as the WAPO’s numbers would seem to indicate.

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