Monday, August 25, 2008

McCain Opens Five-point Lead in Latest Poll

I'm not one who really gets into the political polls, though I thought I'd comment on this. Today a new poll was released that has John McCain now leading Barack Obama nationally 46%-41% after Obama had a seven point lead back in July. The other thing that I thought was interesting in the poll was the fact that McCain leads 49%-40% in the category of "who would be the best manager of the economy." It seems that Obama's opposition to off-shore drilling has really hurt him, as has his recent vacation to Hawaii according to the poll analysis.

Now, I'll be the first to say that polls are not a sure thing when it comes to predicting an election. Just see the exit polls from 2004 which showed John Kerry had won the election, when in fact, he didn't. For instance, this poll asked just 1,089 registered voters, a small fraction of the actual number of registered voters in the U.S. Having worked at a call center that did surveys, I know that not everyone who is called responds; in fact the vast majority don't. Most of the people who answered the surveys in my experience were people who had something on their mind. For instance, I did an on-going survey about gasoline. This was in late 2004 when gas prices were just beginning to really start rising (I don't think we had even hit $2.00/gallon yet). Even then, if someone had something to say, the 15-20 minute time of the survey didn't deter them. Most people we called, though, either regarded us as telemarketers, didn't have the time, or just weren't interested and declined. That said, I would be interested to find out if a study has ever been done to find out just WHO answers surveys and if there is a trend in the types of people (idealogical, cultural, etc.) who most often participate. On top of my experience working for that data research company, I also took a class at Kent State in statistics, particularly in political stats. How the questions are structured can greatly influence a poll's results, as well as the random aspect of who is called and who answers. There are many many factors that can influence a poll, not to mention the latest news reports about a certain candidate or news on the economy or world affairs.

That said, even with my initial skepticism of polls like this in general, if I were an Obama supporter, I'd be a little nervous about this poll. My experience has shown me that conservative people, in general, are less likely to respond to polls than a liberal. Conservatives by nature tend to keep to themselves. Seriously, how many huge conservative protests have we seen in this country? Not many. Most of the outgoing, expressive, and vocal people tend to be liberal. It's why liberals tend to be more supportive of the arts than conservatives, since the arts are forms of creative expression (not that conservatives aren't supporters of the arts or don't have creative expression, of course...this is in general!) So, if I'm seeing that McCain now has a lead, as an Obama strategist or supporter I'm worried that the gap could be even bigger than the poll suggests since most conservatives won't express their opinions until they actually vote. That's what I think happened during the 2004 election and the exit poll failure. While we still have the conspiracy theorists that believe Kerry actually won Ohio because of the exit polls, my belief is that most conservatives (who more than likely voted for Bush) didn't respond to the exit polls as they, again, tend to keep to themselves. They did their patriotic duty by voting and that's no one's business but their own.

I want to believe that the poll represents undecided voters beginning to see who Obama really is and that being charismatic and a great speaker, while valuable, does not make someone a great president or even a diplomat. Those are skills that can greatly aid in those responsibilities, but without the proper knowledge, experience, and understanding, they are useless. There is no doubt that Obama can draw a crowd and make great speeches. But is he really in touch with the realities of diplomacy and world politics? I don't think so. Is McCain the best? Hardly, but he has more experience than Obama, not to mention military experience. It makes me laugh when Democrats try and criticize McCain's military service as inadequate. OK, if McCain, who served in Vietnam, is inadequate, what does that make Obama who has never served a DAY in the military?? Seriously...if you're going to criticize someone, make sure YOU are in a position to criticize! As for other factors, I think Obama's initial opposition to off-shore drilling really hurt him with the average American voter. Polls have shown most Amercians do favor off-shore drilling for oil to lesson the nation's dependence on foreign oil, so opposing it doesn't make anyone believe that you want the country to have energy independence. And, with all Obama's talk of "change" I see much of the same. Like any politician he says what he needs to say to win votes and in the end, blames all the nation's ills on the other party while promising to fix everything. No party or politician will be able to fully address the problems we face as a nation until they do with EVERYONE's best interests in line and not just the party's. So far I've been very underwhelmed with Obama's rhetoric and ideas.

1 comment:

The Huwe Family said...

Hey. Sorry you don't have Kyle's new #. When we changed them he sent everyone a text, but didn't identify himself (that's Kyle for you).:) He received multitudes of messages....."Ummm, who is this?" Anyway.....it's (509)531-0479. My family says hi also. Hope things are going great for you. Talk to you soon.