Political Interlude: The State of the Race

Charles Franklin consistently offers great analysis on politics and polling and this chart is a great example. It compares polling in this year's presidential race to the last two races. It shows that Obama is in better shape now than Kerry and Gore were at this point in the race. But it also shows the extreme volatility in all presidential races inthe final months that means that this race really is too close to call. Democrats who want Obama to be elected presidnet can't be complacant: they need to work hard for the victory.

Here is some analysis by Franklin:

But what about the future? The dynamics of the next 92 days are all important for where we stand on November 4. Since we can't foresee those 92 days yet, let's see what happened during the same time in 2000 and 2004. That gives us a better idea how much change we might anticipate in the next three months.

In 2004, Kerry slowly built a 2 point lead by this time, and held a small lead through much of the summer. But then the race took a sharp turn, with Bush making a 6 point run, taking a four point lead with 50 days to go. Kerry gained back 3 points of that in the polling, but less than 2 points of it in the actual vote, losing by a 2.4 point margin.

In 2000, Bush led in most of the early polls, holding a 6 point lead with 107 days to go. Then Gore moved sharply up, erasing Bush's lead and then adding a 3 point lead for Gore with about 56 days left. Bush promptly reversed Gore's gains with a six point move in the GOP's direction, and led by about 3 points over the last three weeks of the campaign. Of course, the 2000 polls were misleading in predicting a Bush win. Gore won the popular vote by 0.6 points.

So far in 2008, Obama has enjoyed a run up of 5.5 points since his low point in late March. That run is on a par with Bush's in 2004 but still a bit less than Gore's 9 point run in 2000, and on par the Bush's 6 point rebound that year.

Judging from the dynamics we've seen in the past it is quite reasonable to expect the current trend to shift by half-a-dozen points. August and the conventions have been periods of substantial change in both previous elections, so if history repeats itself the next 4 or 5 weeks should be pretty interesting.

The bottom line is neither campaign should be complacent or despondent. There is a lot of time left and recent history shows that both up and down swings of 6-9 points are entirely plausible.

Read it all here.


Logical1 said…
In the last 2 elections, the dems show a huge drop as the election nears. Obama has entered that drop mode already (earlier than the last 2). The question is, how steep will that drop be and will it stop early enough to climb back?

My guess is that his drop is going to be much steeper and harder than the last 2. I'd even venture to say that around day 50 he will be below the 2004 mark and then will climb back enough to join that axis.

If Hillary becomes the VP choice, then the pols will show him winning until the end. It will be up to the GOP to motivate the disgust they have for the Clintons to turn out the votes to stop him. In that case, we won't know until the fat lady has sung.

If he doesn't pick Hillary, he is going to have to work pretty damn hard to keep the dem vote. At that point, the polls will show McCain winning until the end. As long as the GOP doesn't get lazy, he will win.

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