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Monday, March 10, 2008


very odd, indeed

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, March 10, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
Why are pundits so enamoured of the Survey USA 50-state head to head poll? Daniel Larison is just one example of how the punditsphere, both left and right, has read entirely too much into it.

The oddness of the results in New Hampshire also stands out: we’re supposed to believe that Clinton, who actually won the Democratic primary there, will run eight points behind Obama and lose a state that has been trending dramatically Democratic, but that both win Ohio in a walk? This polling doesn’t show McCain necessarily winning New Jersey, but it does show Obama’s limited appeal there as of right now. This is an important point: McCain isn’t the one making New Jersey a battleground state in this match-up. In any other cycle and with almost any other match-up that we could have had, New Jersey would have likely been solidly Democratic. Obama does rather badly in his current polling in Massachusetts: he wins the state, but receives just 49%?

Sure, The results are interesting but how can they really tell us anything about the dynamics of the race in November? How relevant can the primary really be to the general? In a primary, turnout is always higher, and in this primary, we have two Dem candidates who are both very very strong and appealing. Of course the various factions in the party will choose sides. But come a nominee they will rally around easily. Look no further than the GOP for a textbook example of the same thing, and the fraternal acrimony was far worse it must be admitted. I mean, John McCain is the GOP nominee. John McCain! And yet even at RedState, ground zero for the GOP civil war, they've largely rallied around him. I don't see any evidence from Survey USA to suggest otherwise on the Dem side.

A far more interesting poll will happen after the Dem primary is over, because that will more accurately reflect the dynamic of the general. This poll is largely worthless. Blue states are going to go blue. Bank on this.



I don't think that's right that primary turnout is always higher than general election turnout; I was under the impression it's generally the opposite.

But I may be mistaken in that, and leave that aside. You're right that these surveys are by no means definitive about what will happen in November. Clearly these are just starting points for the election and for discussion.

But (1) they are at least suggestive of the extent to which primary or caucus victories in, oh, say, Wyoming, do or do not portend general election victories in November. And (2) to the extent the 2 Dem candidates have different outcomes, they suggest how early strength on the ground in the given candidate's state may be meaningful after all.


I worry about the "rally round easily" part on both sides by now. A lot of stuff is getting said that is hard to unsay or forget -- doubts about fitness for CinC, 'monster', etc. This isn't the bitterest primary fight I've ever seen -- but it's getting there, and the last one this bitter didn't exactly help Carter out once he was running against Reagan.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.