About that Obama victory

TNR's John Judis sums up what we can extrapolate from early October polls (yeah, it's a day early):

By October first, presidential tracking polls begin to predict the winner in November accurately. Since 1960, Gallup's tracking poll
registered the winner in the popular vote (including Al Gore in 2000),
eleven of twelve times. The one exception is 1980, when Jimmy Carter
still led Ronald Reagan by 44 to 40 percent. The late September-early
October polls have not necessarily predicted the final margin. Third
party candidates usually screw up the total, because their support
usually drops by the final election, and generally the race narrows
somewhat by the end. In 1996, for instance, Bill Clinton led Bob Dole
by 14 percentage points on October first. Clinton?s  final
margin would be 8.5 percentage points. In 2004, George W. Bush led John
Kerry by 8 percentage points. His final margin would be only 2.4
points. But in six of these elections–1960, 1964, 1976, 1984, 1988 and
2000–the final margin was different from the October first polling
results by less than three percentage points. Given these results,
supporters of Barack Obama can take heart from the fact that he is
leading 50 to 42 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll.

The polls only have only even got better for Obama since Judis wrote this. 

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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