Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Gallup Follies

Ruy Teixeira is having a lot of fun with the latest Gallup poll. Click here and then go browse around his site for more.

I do think Matt's somewhat correct when he says:

Focusing intently on Gallup's problems seems like a way of denying-without-denying the existence of Kerry's problems (like focusing intently on credibility problems at CBS news instead of at the White House). The reality is that after a few days of what looked to me like a comeback, the Kerry campaign has once again lost its momentum.

But, one shouldn't ignore the importance of a result like Gallup's in shaping voter perceptions about the candidate. My well educated liberal friends read Adam Nagourney's campaign coverage in the Times. (Kerry Campaign -- Doomed! In Disarray! Down in Flames!) And then they hear that Kerry is 8, 9, 10 points below in the polls, because Gallup gets much more play than any others, and they get very demoralized. For most of them, being demoralized just means another 30 days of heartburn, but the meta-narrative of "Kerry - Big Wimpy Loser" probably has a big impact on those bizarre undecided voters.

Look, I'm not a big sports fan but when I do pick sides in a game I don't care much about, I inevitably root for the underdog. That's weird. Most people don't. Most people want to be on the record as having chosen the winner. I think it's fair to say that for those people who honestly haven't yet made up their minds but who will probably go to the polls on election day, the idea that they're going to be on the winning team will have a sizeable impact on their choice.

...and, to be clear, I don't think the Kerry campaign is exactly doomed. Here are the results from the latest bunch of polls from polling report.