« It's a Beautiful Thing | Main | How Much Did Kerry Gain from the Debates? »

Tracking the Tracking Polls

Right now, you're probably asking yourself: what do the latest tracking polls have to say about the presidential race? Well then, you really must toddle over to Bob Poulsen's most excellent 2.004k.com site, where he has a special little page that displays the latest tracking polls side-by-side and updates that page every time new results come out. And as with all the rest of the pages on his site (he has great coverage of all other national polls, as well as data from all the states) topline results are presented crisply, LVs and Rvs distinguished and correct links to the full data provided.

Drop on by. You'll be glad you did.


slightly off topic but relevant none the less:

just how did it come to pass that the electorate is divided almost equally betewen dems and repubs?

does that stike anyone as very unusal, or are there structural factors that that would have predicted a 50/50 electorate?

Just as one tracking poll, ABC/Washington Post is swinging towards Kerry-Edwards, another, Zogby is swinging towards Bush-Cheney. Both swings are large and apparently outside the MOE.

The commentary of each seems silly, as they ignore trends from other polls. Today's Zogby poll, for example, says

"The good news for the President is that he has improved his performance among the small group of undecideds. Nearly a quarter now say that he deserves to be re-elected—up from 18% in our last poll. "

Actually, nobody moved. These are independent samples. A much better strategy to see if people move is to sample the same people a number of times.

Tim Kaastad asks about the equal division between Republicans and Democrats. Interesting question; I don't know the answer, but would like to point out that this is no new phenomenon. Since 1824, the first year there was enough of a popular vote to be worth adding up and recording (until then many states elected their electors indirectly), only 4 Presidents have reached 60% of the total popular vote. There have been whole runs of 51-49 wins, or 50.1-49.9, or 49-48 with dribblets going to minor parties. The Whig-Democrat contests of the mid-19th century were just as close as anything more recent. Lincoln only managed 55% for reelection in the middle of the Civil War, when most of the opposition was voting with bullets instead of ballots.
I think it has to do with the enormous cultural and economic diversity of the country, combined with an electoral system that encourages building coalitions with the aim of just crossing the 50% mark. More than that I cannot say without much more thought and research.

thanks pdb....