With less than a week to go before the election, we're inundated by polls. Most of the tracking polls in the news survey a completely irrelevant measure - the national popular vote (just ask Al Gore). Those polls are tightening a bit, with the RCP composite showing a six-point margin for Obama. Should the Dems be concerned? Are things slipping away, again?!?
Not yet, anyway. Where it matters, in the state-by-state battle for electoral college votes, Obama is looking very solid. Consider the AP's recent battleground state poll:
Notice that Obama leads in every single one, including the six one by W in 2004 (all but PA and NH). He doesn't need to maintain that kind of dominance, of course, but it doesn't bode well for McCain. He would need to pick off several of those to have a chance.
Another thing to consider about the popular vote, aside from its essentially meaninglessness, is that it rarely has a spread of more than six or seven points, even when the electoral vote is a blowout. Consider (from here):
- 1996 - Clinton beat Dole %70.4 to 29.6% electoral, only 49.23% to 40.72% popular
- 1992 - Clinton beat GHW Bush 68.8% to 31.2% electoral, only 43.01% to 37.45% popular
- 1988 - GHW Bush beat Dukakis 79.2% to 20.6% electoral, only 53.37% to 45.65 % popular
- 1980 - Reagan thrashed Carter 90.9% to 9.1% electoral, only 50.75% to 41.01% popular
My point? Don't panic. Just vote!