Thinking about polls

Real Clear Politics has some advice on which kinds of poll numbers to take seriously in the presidential race. In essence, the advice is (1) pay most attention to polls about President Bush’s approval rating and (2) among the head-to-head polls, focus on those that are limited to likely voters and that include Nader in the mix. With respect to approval ratings, the RCP rule of thumb is “an over 50% job approval for the President should translate into a Bush victory. A 45% – 49% job approval will mean a close race, but I would give President Bush the advantage. A 40% – 44% job approval for the President would translate into a dead heat race, and below 40% and you would have to give the advantage to Kerry.” As of Saturday Bush’s RCP Average job approval is at 49.6%.
Perhaps RCP’s best advice, though, is this: “It would be a mistake to get too hyped up by the inevitable back and forth that will transpire in these polls between now and Labor Day.”

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