The wild world of presidential polls

Analysis by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Funny things, these polls. One of the national political polls we’ve been tracking in recent weeks has John McCain surging slightly ahead of Barack Obama. A second had McCain ahead briefly but now has Obama back in front by two points. The third has Obama maintaining the modest lead that he has had in hand for several weeks.

First to that poll, from Gallup, which has Obama ahead by a 47 percent-to-43 percent margin. Voter preferences have been fluctuating wildly even as Obama has the same four-point lead in the Gallup rendering that he had two weeks ago. The gap was as much as nine points at the height of Obama’s recent overseas excursion, and the race was tied at the height of the McCain counterattack highlighted by his now-infamous “Celeb” TV spot.

And now it’s back to where it was essentially when the craziness all started, though as pollster Jeff Jones notes, “it could represent the calm before the storm.” “With vice presidential running mate announcements and the party conventions forthcoming in the next several weeks, enough voter preferences could be changed by these events to cause renewed movement in the overall numbers,” Jones said.

Now to the volatility. Rasmussen Reports has Obama ahead of McCain by a 45 percent-to-43 percent margin, a day after having the two tied at 44 percent, and a week and some change after Obama enjoyed a 46 percent-to-40 percent lead. And Zogby has McCain up by a 42 percent-to-41 percent margin that is a stark contrast to the 46 percent-to-36 percent lead that he had in Zogby on July 13. Keys from Zogby – McCain has pulled to within 11 points of Obama among voters ages 18-29, within five points among women, has erased an 11-point deficit to Obama among independents and made surprising gains among Democrats.

“The McCain camp seems to have turned lemons into lemonade,” pollster John Zogby said. “Huge crowds and mostly favorable press reviews of Obama’s overseas trip have been trumped by McCain’s attacks on Obama. Loss of support for Obama among young voters may also be due to his perceived reversals on issues they care about, such as the war and government eavesdropping.”


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