Dumbest possible reaction to debate comes from Fox News

  When it comes to political polling, the first thing you need to know is that any survey that doesn’t follow the fundamental scientific rules of the game is mostly worthless. Reputable polling organizations take great pains to follow those rules, which is why their results usually are pretty much similar to one another. If Gallup has a poll showing Smith leading Jones by nine percentage points, most other reliable polls likely will show similar results. Sometimes, however, a pollster with a good reputation will come up with...

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Will your heart or your head determine your election prediction?

  As one who puts a lot of faith in reputable pre-election polls, I avoid predicting that the candidate I favor will win if the surveys generally suggest otherwise. Granted, my predictions in presidential elections have been wrong on certain occasions, but only when last-minute polls show a very close — unpredictable, as it were —  race. Amazingly, however, some celebrated political pundits don’t follow my advice in such matters. At least, that was the case four years ago when several conservative commentators ignored...

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Political partisans who scoff at polls usually are fools

  During a TV interview the other day, Larry J. Sabato, boss man of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and publisher of the highly regarded Crystal Ball, offered an amusing anecdote. He said hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t receive scads of  letters and emails from people who seriously expect that Donald Trump will carry 49 or 50 states in the November election. These folks seem to think that polls indicating otherwise are rigged to overstate Hillary Clinton’s popularity among voters. In a similar vein,...

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The season of poll-watching will soon hit high gear

  When the national political conventions of this week and next are finally behind us, the American public and the news media will pay increasing attention to what the presidential polls are telling us. But it’s a tricky business in almost every respect. Accurate polls are increasingly difficult to conduct, especially in this age of cell phones. And most of the media do a poor job of interpreting poll results. Consider this situation: As of this morning (Monday, July 18), the latest editions of six national polls show Hillary...

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Obama’s poll numbers have never been as low as any of the last five GOP presidents

With about seven months remaining in his presidency, Barack Obama’s job-approval rating is not exactly great, but neither is it too shabby. The latest edition of Gallup’s three-day tracking poll shows that 50.9 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing, while 45.2 disapprove. That’s a far cry from his highest rating — 69 percent — which came during the early months of his presidency. But it’s a lot better than his all-time low of 38-percent approval registered about five years ago. Perhaps the most interesting aspect...

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