The polls have generally been moving in the right direction lately for John Kerry, both nationally and on the state level, but Democrats are still inclined to be sent into a tizzy by any negative poll result they run across.
They shouldn’t. It’s time to revisit the thrilling polls of yesteryear to get a sense of just how much the polls in 2000 tended to overestimate Bush’s strength and underestimate Gore’s. I believe, for reasons I have discussed at length, the polls are likely overestimating Bush’s strength this year as well. But this year, Kerry is doing better in the polls than Gore did at the equivalent point in the 2000 race. Therefore, if current polls are overestimating Bush’s strength by the same amount as in 2000, Kerry should wind up doing better than Gore on election day–and Gore won the popular vote by half a point. And that’s not even factoring in the likelihood that, with Bush as the incumbent, Kerry will receive the bulk of undecided voters’ support on election day.
So let’s take that stroll down memory lane.
Start with this nugget from Alan Abramowitz:
During the final week of the 2000 campaign, 43 national polls were released, including multiple releases by several polling organizations such as Gallup. George Bush led in 39 polls, Al Gore in 2. Bush’s average lead in the polls was 3.6 percent.
Something to keep in mind when people complain that so far (two days) in this final week Kerry has “only” had small leads in the DCorps poll, the Harris Poll and the WP/ABC tracking poll twice (LVs and RVs)!
And here are some readings from specific 2000 polls:
1. The ABC tracking poll averaged a 4 point Bush lead in the last week and its final poll had a 3 point Bush lead.
2. Bloomberg News final poll (October 29) had a 3 point Bush lead.
3. Final Time poll (October 26) had a 6 point Bush lead.
4. Gallup’s tracking poll had Bush ahead by an average of 4 points in the final week and by 2 points in its final poll.
5. Marist College’s final poll (November 2) gave Bush a 5 point lead.
6. Final NBC/WSJ poll (November 5) had Bush up by 3 and their mid-October poll had him up by 6.
7. Final Newsweek poll (November 2) had Bush up by 2 and their October 27 poll had him up by 8.
8. Final Pew Research poll had Bush up by 2.
9. A November 4 CBS/NYT poll had Bush up by 5 (though the final CBS poll was dead-on, with a 1 point Gore lead).
10. Final ICR poll had Bush up by 2.
11. Voter.com Battleground survey (this year called GWU Battleground) averaged an 8 point Bush lead in the final week and its final poll gave Bush a 5 point lead.
12. TIPP tracking poll gave Bush a average 6 point lead in the final week and a final poll lead of 2 points.
13. Prior to its well-known final reading of a 2 point Gore lead, Zogby’s tracking poll gave Bush an average 3 point lead in the final week.
14. Final Hotline poll (November 5) gave Bush a 3 point lead.