Pollster.com – Important Cautions about Polls


February 04, 2008

February 5 Polls: Four Cautions

Over the last 48 hours we have had an avalanche of new polls,** and given the discussion both in our comments section and elsewhere across the blogosphere, everyone seems unsure of what to make of the results and what they say about where things stand, especially in the Democratic presidential race. As is evident from our charts, the trends are highly favorable to both John McCain and Barack Obama, but from there things get murkier, especially in the Democratic race. Here is my sense of what the poll results tell us and what they do not.

The Republican race is easier to gauge, largely because of the “winner-take-all” rules that apply in so many Republican primaries. The National Journal‘s Campaign Tracker shows that more than two-thirds of the Republican delegates up for grabs tomorrow will be awarded on a winner-take-all basis either by state or congressional district or some combination of the two. As such, John McCain’s roughly twenty-point leads in most of the national surveys, combined with similar margins in the winner-take-all-states in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware) and narrower leads elsewhere position him to take a commanding delegate lead tomorrow night. Mitt Romney’s hopes, on the other hand, ride on surpassing McCain in states like California and Missouri.

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