Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Polls and mood

September 17th, 2008, 11:30am by Sam Wang

This morning I ran into a senior colleague at the town coffee joint. She and I agreed that during the heat of a presidential race, polls influenced our mood strongly. If that’s generally true, then I sense some moods shifting out there.

National polls (Diageo, Rasmussen, Gallup, Research 2000, ARG, Reuters) conducted 9/11-16 give a median of Obama leading by 2.0 +/- 1.1%, a 4-point swing toward Obama compared with McCain’s post-convention peak last week. However, it’s not clear what this means for the race. Just as McCain’s bounce was disproportionately concentrated in red states, this “unbounce” might also not be evenly distributed. We won’t know until next week.

Hypothetically, if McCain’s losses are all in deep-red states, then his electoral chances aren’t changing much. Could this be the case? One clue can be found in the continuing decline of Palin’s approval numbers. She currently has the worst favorable-unfavorable spread among Obama, McCain, Biden, and herself. I predicted on the day of the announcement that her candidacy wouldn’t wear well. A lot of substantive information is emerging: her lack of familiarity with issues, including energy; possible abuses of power; her attempt to ban books; and her lack of belief in human contributions to global warming and even perhaps whether dinosaurs preceded humans on Earth.

And then of course there is the candidate himself. McCain is having well-known difficulties with telling the truth. Also, yesterday he repeated his line that the “fundamentals” of the economy are strong in the face of the implosion of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, the last of which is 80% owned by U.S. taxpayers as of today.

These facts aren’t likely to hurt McCain’s support among party loyalists. If his losses are among independent voters, it would hurt him in battleground states. That’s bad news for him. Or he might be slipping back uniformly all over the U.S., which would be an easier place from which to recover.

My suspicion is that the EV estimate at the top of this page, which are based on the most recent state polls, represent a high-water mark for the McCain campaign – at least for now.

Tags: 2008 Election

One Comment so far ↓

  • Fred

    you were right; multiple polls are showing very recent swing to Obama.
    Possible factors: Financial industry crisis; McCain “the economy is sound”; continual bad publicity for Palin + end of post convention bounce.
    Question: will this new trend last? The economy is not a transient issue, so perhaps it will. I don’t think Kerry ever recoverd from Swift Boat (was helped by the debates, but to a relatively small degree)