Friday, August 10, 2012

Fishing Polls

Mitt Romney has had a rough couple of weeks, and it’s starting to show in the polls.

Fox just released a new presidential poll showing President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 9 points. That’s the second poll today and the third in the last two days. The other two (from CNN and Ipsos/Reuters) both had Romney down by 7.

Worth noting that beside PPP, which releases a weekly poll, this is the first big batch of stand alone national presidential polls since mid-July. And a lot has happened since then: the big Obama push on offshore accounts, the foreign trip, the rock-em-sock-em robots with Harry Reid.

This will be mitigated, so to speak, in the next day or so when he announces his running mate and a new shiny object is tossed to the crowd. Then comes the convention in Tampa at the end of the month, which will give him a bump after all the rah-rah Obama-bashing and the chorus of secret-gay-Kenyan-Muslim rants with a couple of amusing sideshows thrown in to placate the base.

A lot of pundits are looking for a historical parallel to this campaign; is it like 1980 or 2004, or 1960 or 1948? There’s comfort in drawing a comparison with a known quantity, as if the history teaches us some profound lesson of how to win — or lose — an election. And while I’m about as close to a political scientist as Mitt Romney is to a hip-hop star, my hunch is that polls are notoriously short-sighted and unscientific. Last night I got polled twice in the space of an hour: first by a real live person doing a push-poll for a Miami-Dade County commissioner, and the second by a robo-poll that said if I wanted to take the poll in English, press 1; Spanish, press 2. There being no choice for Welsh, I hung up. (I don’t speak a word of Welsh, but they deserve a choice.) In neither case was I interested in giving my true opinion, and in the case of the one with the live person asking the questions, I politely ended it before it was done because my dinner was getting cold. Because the poll wasn’t completed, it doesn’t count, so earlier answers, including my enthusiastic “Strongly Disapprove” of the Florida GOP, went nowhere.

I know pollsters figure that into the “margin of error” in their numbers, so whatever they report gives them room to discount my need to get back to dinner or the person who just likes to mess with the polls by saying they’re planning to write in Teddy the Wonder Lizard. And I also figure that the campaigns know this, so no one in any of the headquarters is taking these results any more seriously than I did last night standing in the kitchen watching my macaroni and cheese solidify into a cold mass of gluten and dairy products as the nice lady asked me about Gwen Margolis.

It does, however, give the Villagers something to talk about other than the economy, immigration, taxes, equality, and all that other boring stuff.