McCain vs. Obama In the Polls: What’s Going ON?

I keep hearing about today’s Gallup poll that says Barack Obama holds a 9 point lead over John McCain – a lead which has been growing and growing.  I hear mainstream media professional bloviators assure us the race is basically over.

Man.  It doesn’t sound good for McCain – or me – I think.  And then I look at today’s Zogby poll:

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby Poll:
Obama 48%, McCain 45% as Presidential Race Enters Final Month

The three-day telephone tracking poll shows neither candidate with a clear advantage in the national horserace

UTICA, New York – The race for President of the United States remains far too close to call between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain as the contest enters its last four weeks, and with a pair of crucial debates immediately ahead, the first report of the fall Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby daily tracking telephone polls shows.

The survey, including a three-day sample of 400 likely voters collected over each of the previous three days – Oct. 4-6, 2008 – shows that Obama holds a slight advantage amounting to 2.4 percentage points over McCain. This represents a bit of a recovery by McCain, who had been sliding in some polls before his running mate, Sarah Palin, put in a strong performance in her one and only debate performance last Thursday. Though a Zogby poll showed that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden actually won that debate, it also showed Palin far and away exceeded expectations, and that has apparently helped stop McCain’s decline in the polls.

Three Day Tracking Poll






Others/Not sure


The Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, conducted by live telephone operators in Zogby’s in-house call center in Upstate New York, included a total of 1,237 likely voters nationwide, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

So Gallop has Obama creaming McCain in a landslide; Zogby has a 2.4 point race within the margin of error.

Zogby toots its own horn, but states a fact:

Zogby International was the most accurate pollster in every one of the last three presidential election cycles…

I have frankly become sick of looking at polls, when the numbers are all over the place, and I feel like the purpose of most of them is to play statistical games to misrepresent the real story.

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3 Responses to “McCain vs. Obama In the Polls: What’s Going ON?”

  1. William Shaw Says:

    It’s important to point out that polling is a very soft science, and liable to error. And statistics are liable to manipulation. But you have confused an advertising slogan with a “fact”. Zogby may have – arguably – more accurate than Gallup in certain polls in the run up to the last three presidential elections, but don’t forget that in 2004 Zogby predicted that the winner on electoral college votes would be John Kerry. Zogby’s realy coup, when it was at clear odds to other polls was 12 years ago when it predicted Clinton’s victory with stunning accuracy.

  2. Ole Man River GA Says:

    I am going to skip this one. Polls have gone up and down this year. When Obama is down Burton says “Polls are meaningless” [his own words] and when Obama is up the same guy says “you see what we told you” with a smirk. I am going to wait for November 5th and see the final result. Meantime I look at all the photos and see people of all ages, male and female, and they all flock to see Miss Sarah. I am hoping, and I will say a prayer for her and for the Country.

  3. Michael Eden Says:

    William may well be right about Zogby’s self-proclaimed record. They ARE all subject to being very, very wrong. And I have found that I am by no means an expert at looking at different polls on different days and making predictions or accurate extrapolations.

    Ignoring the polls may be the best course for the reasonable mind that wants to remain sane.

    I believe that things WILL tighten up, and that the race will be close. And of course, it always comes down to those “battleground” states.

    I don’t need a poll to decide how I’M going to vote!

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