Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Folly of 'National Polls'

Each day the cable news networks bring us the latest 'national tracking polls' showing the closing or widening gap between Obama and McCain. They then call in their experts to explain the daily dips and bubbles. It makes for an interesting segment, but it hardly matters.

Apparently these news networks hope that the average audience slept through the civics lesson on the Electoral College- states elect the president. The polling data that actually matters are the individual state tallies. However, that is not as interesting nor as fluctuating as the national poll.

Today the state polls say this:

Obama 216
McCain 88

Not very interesting news, yet we all know that the electoral vote is what counts, not the popular vote. Surely Al Gore knows that lesson well. Using the data, the division between the two presidential candidates becomes even more fixed when the 'leaning' states are added to the Numbers:

Obama 284
McCain 169

Even if McCain picked up every 'toss-up' state, he would only have 251 electoral votes, 19 shy of the 270 needed. Seems like the presidential race is about all over save a major disaster from Obama. But that doesn't fill air-time, thus the national polling data.

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