Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)


NYT front page story, February 28th, 1984

"Hart leads Mondale 38-31"
CBS NYT Poll, March 5th -8th 1984

I have been following politics for over 25 years.  In that time I have been consistently amazed at how few people actually understand how the nomination process works.   What this diary is going to demonstrate is that National Polls are mostly meaningless.  It's going to do this by reviewing the last 30 years of primary history.  

And at the end of this diary you should ask why people get paid to write detailed analysis of meaningless national polls

The first table summarizes the impact of the New Hampshire Results on National Polling.  I did this by comparing the last national poll before Iowa and the first National Poll after New Hampshire.   Since 1980 there have been four races with more than two candidates: 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2004.   In those four races the winner of the New Hampshire Primary has received a 25 point bounce in the week after the New Hampshire Primary.

The numbers in this table were arrived at by comparing the last National Poll before Iowa with the first National Poll after New Hampshire.  For example, in 1984 Hart won NH, and went up 36 points (from 2% before New Hampshire to 38% after New Hampshire.  What I am trying to show is the combined effect Iowa and New Hampshire have on the National Race.

To some extent, though, this table fails to highlight the impact on front runners.  So the table below shows the impact on front runners of New Hampshire.  On average New Hampshire causes a 33 point swing between the top-two candidates!!!  For example, going into Iowa, Dean was the front runner.  After the results in New Hampshire, he lost 11 points in the National Race while Kerry went up by 37 points.

What this data also shows is the folly of states moving close to New Hampshire.  Given the speed of the effect that NH has on National polling, states following New Hampshire closely will do little more than ratify the NH result.

It is possible using this data to predict what the impact would be of one of the current candidates winning.  This table shows what the national polls will look like given a certain order of finish:

For people in interested in the data, I have posted it here:
http://spreadsheets0.google.com/ccc?key= pxS63gptPDw_a-DF65krweg&hl=en_US

The data for 1984, 1992 and 2004 are post below:

Tags: National Polling (all tags)



what's most disturbing

is you  have to go back to 1960 to find a Democratic frontrunner who went on to win the presidency!!!

by TarHeel 2007-08-20 09:55AM | 0 recs
Going into New Hampshire

Clinton and Brown were tied.  So you can argue Clinton won as a front-runner - though I think its a stretch.

by fladem 2007-08-20 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Going into New Hampshire

What's interesting is that WaPo/ABC corporate media conducted a poll by telephone July 26-31 of 500 Iowa Dems LIKELY to attend a caucus - and Edwards, Obama, and Hillary were virtually tied. This poll was then cited by the corporate media and during the lead up to the ABC debate last Sunday.

Between August 2-3, Peter Hart and Associates conducted a poll of 509 Iowans who HAD ATTENDED previous caucuses or were likely to attend - and the results were Edwards- 30, Hillary- 22, Obama- 18.

To my knowledge, this poll has never been mentioned by the corporate media.

by annefrank 2007-08-20 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Going into New Hampshire

i dont know if thats a matter of being for or against a candidate. there is a proprietary element to all of these polls- ie, if abc did the poll then of course they are going to cite their poll, not someone elses

by bruh21 2007-08-20 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Going into New Hampshire

But look at the difference in the poll participants - "likely caucus attendees" vs. "previous and likely caucus attendees."

by annefrank 2007-08-20 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Going into New Hampshire

I didn't disagree with that portion of what you wrote. I am simply pointing out trying to define this in partisan rather than proprietary terms is a mistake. It's like if you see a poll by NYT- they will cite their polls first if they aren't as well done as other polls, and due the impact of how media works- ie, papers like NY Times given more weight, that means you will see and hear about it more. This has always been true of media even before modern consolidation. Its exascerbated now, but the dynamic isn't from what I understand of it- unique.

On the subjec tof polls , I love this diary because I have been feeling in the last few months like up is down and black is white with the overemphasis on how what I was remembering elections have happened in teh past. To the extent you are right to point out that likely should include actual- I agree. but frankly does it really matter? I would prefer it to be a shock that Edwards wins by a big margin than not. Why? because that helps his media narraitve. The new comeback kid.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Going into New Hampshire

Actually, given that the NH primaries were in February of 1992, the January poll in your graph that shows that Clinton had moved ahead of Brown by 9% and of Tsongas by 12% would suggest that he was the frontrunner going into NH.  

by georgep 2007-08-21 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

No candidate has lost with 40ish% on the national scale; National polls matter this time around because of the aggregation of Super Tuesday; yet, Iowa and NH still hold an important place.

by American1989 2007-08-20 10:02AM | 0 recs
The reverse is true

The closer they get to New Hampshire, the more the State's vote looks like the National Polling after New Hampshire.

See what happened to Dean after 2004.

by fladem 2007-08-20 10:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The reverse is true

And this issue should help Hillary because she is beating Rudy head-to-head according to FOX News, CNN, Gallup, NBC/WSJ.

She crushes him in Arkansas, leads him in FL, edges out in PA, competitive in OH and has a modest edge in WV and IA. These things point to a victory for Democrats.

On the other side, Obama loses to Rudy in PA, FL and OH. With this combination, there is NO chance of him winning the White House.

On Edwards, don't know the stats, but regardless, a person who thinks the war on terror is a bumper sticked will be beaten to death by the GOP and the public at large who will be skeptical. Unless, Elizabeth starts to emotionally blackmail them.

by American1989 2007-08-20 10:21AM | 0 recs
I diaried the impact of Iowa

on New Hampshire.  The winner gets a 14 point bounce out of Iowa.  Here is the summary:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/13/ 1936/95185?mode=edit

by fladem 2007-08-20 10:25AM | 0 recs
Problems as I see them

1) 'Monkey Business'

2) Tom Harkin

3) Howard Dean

4) Now antique primary calender

I'll go a bit further:

Who thinks Gary Hart would have won if not for the public blow up - and fallout from - Donna Rice?

Tom Harkin skewed it in '92.  He took some oxygen out of the race early because he took Iowa off the table.

Who here think Hillary Clinton is the '07 version of the '03 Howard Dean?  Not many I bet.

Lastly, there is not time on the calender this year to consolidate support after winning Iowa, then move to New Hampshire build there, and then take both and move into February, and then click through the other contests over the next few months.  This thing is over on Feb. 5.  There will be at least 6 contests before the end of January.

Primary races are all so different I think it is hard to draw wide reaching conclusion from historical dates.  The races are different.  So are the issue, the candidates, the strength of the field, the calender, etc.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-20 10:35AM | 0 recs
In '88

the problems with Hart's personality were already growing.  It is far from a slam dunk that he would have won even if Donna Rice was never heard from.

No Iowa meant NH was decisive.  Kerrey might have benefited from Iowa, and it might have brought Gephardt into the race.  

I think you are dead wrong about how NH will impact the Dec 5 states.  The NH bounce occurs within DAYS.  The real question is whether the other candidates can recover from losing NH.

by fladem 2007-08-20 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: In '88

The common comments by Clinton supporters is that the national polls matter despite history because this election is unlike other elections in that we have Clinton on the ballot. Essentially they dispute your argumments by claiming clinton is so you unique that history doesn't matter. What is your view on this argument?

by bruh21 2007-08-20 11:21AM | 0 recs
Clinton is not unique

This race is unique.  Furthermore this primary calender is more than unique, it is new and it is very different.

All I am saying is that history isn't a perfect guide, especially when there are factors present now that were not present them.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-20 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton is not unique

uhm,  I asked the other poster the question because I knew what you answer would be. Since he has actually done research on the issue, I figured he would be able to give a real answer versus  just opinion.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton is not unique

This race is unique.

Just like all the others.

by Rooktoven 2007-08-20 02:23PM | 0 recs
Past performance

is not assurance of future success.  

You are right to say each race is unique.

But what history does show is that these national polls this far out mean nothing.

by fladem 2007-08-20 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re:Reminds me of Dean Supporters in 04

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Forget the polls; it was perfectly obvious that Howard Dean was never going to get the nomination once Democrats said, "Ok, we've been dating all they these guys, now let's get serious and pick our nominee."

Dean was such a lightweight he would float way in a soft breeze. He wasn't going to cross the "Presidential gravitas" threshold in a million years.

by hwc 2007-08-20 10:29PM | 0 recs
Bill Clinton lost Iowa and NH

How big was that bounce for Tsongas again?  Paul won New Hampshire you may recall (or you may not).

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-20 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Bill Clinton lost Iowa and NH

Tsongas went up 14 from the last pre NH poll to the first post NH poll.  However, you can argue the full bounce was 22 points, since he went from 2% in mid-January to 24% after new Hampshire.

In 1992 Iowa was not contested.

by fladem 2007-08-20 11:41AM | 0 recs

the bigger they are the harder they fall.  That is the history of primaries.  Is the Clinton name really any different than the Kennedy name in 1980?  

I think you can make an argument that Hillary is for a front runner weak.  Certainly that is true in Iowa, and to a lesser extent somewhat true in NH.

The number to watch, by the way, in New Hampshire is 40.  If she is above it, she can withstand a loss in Iowa.  Below it, and she is in trouble.  If she is below 35 she probably loses to the Iowa winner.

by fladem 2007-08-20 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense

That's interesting. I've made a similar observation that her numbers seem like a ceiling rather than a floor. For example, if you look how some claim she will suceed it relies on voters who haven't traditionally voted in huge numbers in the past. With her approvals amongst Democrats and her name recognition, it's hard to see where she grows?

by bruh21 2007-08-20 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense

This claim is patently false.  Clinton is strongest amongst the older voters and among female voters.  Women make up more reliable voters than men, so she has an advantage due to her strong tilt in that group.   But, more importantly, Clinton is strongest amongst the older voting groups, which also happens to be the most reliable voting bloc of them all.  Those 55 and older come out, rain or shine, which gives her a strong advantage.  Those who claim to be for her are ALSO more likely to come out to vote for her (because that is what they traditionally always do anyway.)  Obama is the one who relies on voters who don't have a history of showing up on election day (i.e. very young voters.)  

by georgep 2007-08-20 12:04PM | 0 recs
That's already factored into the polls.

Mystery Pollster at pollster.com ran a nice series on screens used to predict who will vote and how that affects results.

by chicago jeff 2007-08-20 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: That's already factored into the polls.

exactly- and this is how one gets to the shell game

by bruh21 2007-08-20 07:24PM | 0 recs
I think the Obama boomlet

is in fact a reaction against Hillary.

I completely agree with you that her numbers are more a ceiling than a floor.

There are a lot of similarities between this race and 1984.  As in '84, a popular candidate is not running (in '84 it was Kennedy, in '04 it' Gore), and there is a front runner that I don't think many people really like.   In '83 at this point Mondale's main opponnent was Glenn, and I am not convinced that we know who Hillary's final challenger will be now.  

But I do think there is a hunger that Hillary can't meet.  Edwards and Obama may split the vote enough to let her end this before NH, but I think that is unlikely.  The will be a real race in '08.  

As they usually do, the race will likely come down to one key moment - some exchange that will tell us something about the character of the candidates (like the where's the beef comment)

Hillary badly needs to win that exchange.

by fladem 2007-08-20 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: I think the Obama boomlet

I haven't done the research you have done, but this comports with my general historical understanding. I've following politics since 1980, but especially since 1984.

Like you said, she may win by a vote split between Edwards and Obama. That's the only real uncertainty in the equation for me.

I also agree she will fight hard against a Dean scream movement. Her campaign can ill afford a peek behind the curtain to see the wizzard moment. It would just reinforce the concerns lingering in the background.

From the level of spin I find here on mydd these days, I have to conclude that the Clintonistas know that they rest on a house of cards.

She may indeed win, but for a candidate to be stuck in the mid 30s or so in the individual states, just isn't all that impressive as a clear front runner. I would add that the thing they taut- that she is unique- also works against her. If she is so unique, it shouldn't even be a contest. And yet, it is. That more than anything says she is beatable. That there is this well of reservation that is latching on to various candidates rathaer tahn consolidated against her.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 12:26PM | 0 recs
You can argue

that the number of candidates who are running is a sign that people think she can be beat.

by fladem 2007-08-20 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I think the Obama boomlet

There are no similarities between this year and 1984. In 1984, the Democrats were up against the juggernaught of an incredibly popular incumbent Ronald Reagan. It was probably the low-point for the Democratic Party and they were nominating a candidate destined to be wiped out in a landslide loss.

The final electoral college tally was:

Reagan 535
Mondale 13

The Democrats carried just one state, Mondale's home state of Minnesota, and the District of Columbia.

by hwc 2007-08-20 12:30PM | 0 recs
In 1983

Reagan did not look nearly as formidable, and in early '04 Mondale and Hart were within 5 - 7 of Reagan.

Reagan's blowout was in part based on an economy that got better and better throughout '84, and in part because Mondale said at the convention he was going to raise everyone's taxes.

by fladem 2007-08-20 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: In 1983

its also completely irrelevant to the primary.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I think the Obama boomlet

now this is hillarious. again, you play a little game of hide the ball. we are talking democratic primary in 1984 versus now. and what do you pull out- the general election.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall in the primaries."

That is absurd and false.  

In fact, the opposite is true.  Clear frontrunners who have an advantage throughout the year have always gone on to win their party's nomination.   Even Kerry, who was the Democrats frontrunner from March through late July in 2003 went on to win the nomination in the end.  

The key for the candidates is to become the early front-runner and hold the position for the first three quarters of 2007. Once that is accomplished, the nomination is probably in the bag (has been so historically, after all)   No clear front-runner, except for Rockefeller in 1964, has ever failed to win the nomination since the primary process became pivotal in party nominations in 1960.

Among Democrats, Kennedy in '60, Humphrey, once he entered the race, in '68, McGovern in '72, Carter in '76 and '80, Mondale in '84, Dukakis in '88, Clinton in '92, Gore in '00 and Kerry in '04 were front-runners who held their leads. Mondale, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry were front-runners who were briefly shaken by challengers (Hart, Tsongas, Bradley and Dean) but held on to win their nominations

Among Republicans, Nixon in '60 and '68, Ford in '76, Reagan in '80, Bush in '88, Dole in '96, and Bush in '00 were all front-runners going in and the nominee coming out. Only Goldwater can be said to have pulled off an upset in 1964 by toppling Rockefeller.

So once there is a clear front-runner, he or she is likely to go all the way. This is especially true since he or she will have won front-runner status by intensive national media exposure rather than just insider chatter. With the process giving him or her so much face-time so early, the front-runner is unlikely to fade once the real primaries start.

by georgep 2007-08-20 12:14PM | 0 recs

Please read your primary history.  Click on the link to Google Docs.  And look at the polling data I posted.

In '68 Humprey did not lead in National Polling until Kennedy was shot.  In '72 Muskie lead all of '71 and even after the NH primary.  In '76 Carter didn't lead until NH.  In 1980 Kennedy lead Carter for all of '79 until very early 1980.  Mondale was dead meat until Hart made a crucial mistake in Illinios. Dukakis did not lead in '88 until after the NH primary.  In '92 Clinton did not lead until mid-January of '92.

And Kerry was dead and forgotten until Iowa revived him.

The point of this diary is that Iowa and NH will remake the race, and that National Polls are mostly irrelevant.

I do not see how you have challenged this assumption.

by fladem 2007-08-20 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Thank you for this diary. I will hot list it. You seem particularly good at this. What  I've been trying to find are the impact of her fav/unfav down ticket b) how does she produce a win?

by bruh21 2007-08-20 12:32PM | 0 recs
Thank you

Hillary can still win.  

I am not sure about her effect downticket.  The Clinton's have always done well getting African Americans to turnout - this was one thing Gore was not as good at as the Clinton's - so that may help.

But think of the turnout among the religious. right.....

by fladem 2007-08-20 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you

I think she can win the general too. My concern are down ticket, and whether it's the CLinton only show as it was in the 1990s.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: fav/unfav

Thank you for this diary. I will hot list it. You seem particularly good at this. What  I've been trying to find are the impact of her fav/unfav down ticket b) how does she produce a win?

by bruh21 2007-08-20 12:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

You are incorrect.

As was pointed out, in 2003 Kerry was the early frontrunner (from March through end of July) and regained his frontrunner status to win the nomination.

Clinton had surged to the lead a few weeks after announcing his candidacy and kept it until the Gennifer Flowers saga hit.  It is true that he had lost that lead, but your point is false that he led for the first time in mid-January.

Dukakis led most of the polls as well, was the frontrunner of the party.  There was the one or other poll that showed Hart leading, but throughout 87 Dukakis had most of the poll leads.  

Mondale/Hart:  What is your "claim" here?  Had Hart not met with the scandal problem, he could have been well yet another frontrunner who went on to win the nomination, just as I claimed.  Of course, he got out of the race, which threw the nomination to the person who then became the frontrunner.   Both instances prove the frontrunner strength.

by georgep 2007-08-20 12:47PM | 0 recs
This is just wrong

Dukakis NEVER LEAD A NATIONAL POLL until after NH.  Period.  If you have the data post it - but I was pretty thorough and I never found evidence of it.

Clinton did not lead in '91. Ever that I saw.

If you want to get technical, Gore was the early front runner.  Kerry lead for a while, but collapsed.

I note you make no attempt to defend your assertions about the race in 1968, 1972, 1976 or 1980.  

by fladem 2007-08-20 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: This is just wrong

1. As was pointed out, Kerry was the Democratic frontrunner for 2004 from March 2003 through late July, early August, lost his status and gained it back in the end.  The field of candidates was considered particularly weak, which allowed even Lieberman and Gephardt to show slight leads in a 22%, 18%, 14%, 12% kind of way.  

2. In 2000 Gore as the quasi-incumbent led Bradley pretty much all the way and went on to win the nomination.

3. In 1996 Bill Clinton had no challenger

4. In 1992 Bill Clinton won his first term.  

When he announced his candidacy on Oct. 3 of 1991 he moved into frontrunner status almost immediately:

http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=00 97755-00

When Clinton announced his candidacy for president in late 1991, many political observers believed it was unlikely that any Democrat could unseat the then-popular George Bush. Some prominent Democrats therefore declined to seek the presidency, and Clinton was immediately considered the Democratic front-runner.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/articl e/0,9171,974539-1,00.html

Bill Clinton frontrunner by default

Are things once again going too smoothly for Clinton? At 45, he has a decade in the statehouse behind him. After Mario Cuomo took himself out of the race for the White House, Clinton became his party's media-anointed front runner.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinto n_presidential_campaign,_1992

When the early straw polls were finished, Bill Clinton was the candidate on the rise. The other primary contenders were Douglas Wilder, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, and Jerry Brown. Clinton's victory in the Florida straw poll over Harkin made him the early front-runner in the post-Cuomo vacuum.

5. 1988 saw first Hart as the frontrunner, then, after Hart was forced to drop out, Dukakis moved into the frontrunner role, favored to win over Jesse Jackson and Dick Gephardt.  

6. 1984


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presid ential_election,_1984

Initially, former Vice-President Walter Mondale was viewed as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Mondale had the largest number of party leaders supporting him, and he had raised more money than any other candidate. However, both Jesse Jackson and Gary Hart emerged as surprising, and troublesome, opponents for Mondale.

7. 1980

Carter's re-election bid as the frontrunner.  Sure, Ted Kennedy gave him a spirited challenge, but Carter was obviously the Democratic frontrunner.

8. 1976


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presid ential_election,_1976

The 1976 campaign featured a record number of state primaries and caucuses, and it was the first presidential campaign in which the primary system was dominant. However, most of the Democratic candidates failed to realize the significance of the increased number of primaries, or the importance of creating momentum by winning the early contests. The one candidate who did see the opportunities in the new nominating system was Jimmy Carter, a former state senator and governor of Georgia. Carter, who was virtually unknown at the national level, would never have gotten the Democratic nomination under the old, boss-dominated nominating system, but given the public disgust with political corruption following Nixon's resignation, Carter realized that his obscurity and "fresh face" could be an asset in the primaries. Carter's plan was to run in all of the primaries and caucuses, beginning with the Iowa caucus, and build up momentum by winning "somewhere" each time primary elections were held.

Well, ok, 1976 was a special case.  The country felt burned by Nixon, the new primary system was taking hold, and there was no true frontrunner at all.  Carter won by being the first to recognize how important the primary system was to the nomination process.  One can't certainly make the case that Udall or Brown were frontrunners that year.


Muskie was the early frontrunner, that is true.  But his support crumbled when he erupted in tears on the snowy streets of Manchester complaining about the Union-Leader's perceived mistreatment of his wife. After that, his campaign crumbled and McGovern picked up the pieces:

Within 24 hours, Muskie's weepingbecame the focus of political talk, not just in New Hampshire, but everywhere the pattern of the developing presidential race was discussed. His tears were generally described as one of the contributing causes of his disappointing showing in the March 7 primary. Muskie beat McGovern by a margin of 46 to 37 percent, but his managers had publicized their goal of winning at least 50 percent of the New Hampshire Democratic vote. Underdog McGovern claimed that the results showed Muskie's weakness and his own growing strength. Muskie never recovered from that Saturday in the snow.

Besides, even though his candidacy was falling apart, Muskie still managed to win the NH primary, disproving one of your central arguments about NH.


Lyndon B. Johnson was the clear frontrunner, running as a 1 1/2 term sitting president.  He ran basically uncontested, won the NH primaries, but on March 31, 1968 he suddenly announced that he would not be seeking re- election after all.    The instant default frontrunner became Hubert Humphrey.

Your sentence:  "I note you make no attempt to defend your assertions about the race in 1968, 1972, 1976 or 1980" does not appear to compute.  In 1980 Carter ran for re-election, was the clear frontrunner.  In 1968 Lyndon Johnson was the frontrunner, then abruptly decided to quit, making Humphrey the default frontrunner.

What it amounts to is a clear frontrunner advantage:  Where you have a frontrunner who has a consistent lead, that frontrunner typically goes on to win the nomination.   That is, unless the frontrunner got embroiled in a scandal, which derailed the bid (i.e. Hart/Donna Rice, Muskie's tear-filled blowup. Lyndon Johnson decided to quit.)   And, yes, it is true that CLEAR FRONTRUNNER status (as we see with Hillary Clinton) is rare, not easy to find.  Most of the pols I mentioned were either slight frontrunners (i.e. Kerry, Mondale) or became frontrunners after earlier frontrunners had damaged themselves dramatically (Muskie gave way to McGovern, Hart gave way to Dukakis, Lyndon Johnson gave way to Humphrey.)  

Frontrunners usually win the nomination, especially CLEAR frontrunners.  However, the silver lining:  Scandals and major blowups have the ability to derail frontrunners.   So, the hope for Obama and Edwards supporters at this point would be a massive scandal hitting Hillary Clinton.  

by georgep 2007-08-20 04:22PM | 0 recs

you simply repeat assertions, but do not reference the data.  My central premise is that NH will completely re-make the race, and that national polling is irrelevant.

Frankly you actually quote evidence contrary to your case.

NH completely re-made the race, since LBJ was running for re-election until NH.  McCarthy came close, and LBJ withdrew.  NH caused LBJ to get out - which anyone with any knowledge of '68 knows.

You actually know nothing about 1968 - its hard to know where to begin.  The primary process was completely different then.  

So 1968 is consistent with my theory.

Your argument here makes no sense.  Muskie lead until NH, when his narrow win caused his campaign to collapse.

It proves my theory.  

Your quote says "Carter was unknown at the National Level".  Because he won Iowa and NH, the race was completely remade.  

1976 is one of the best examples of my theory in operation.

You are simply wrong.  Kennedy led Carter for all of 1979.  In fact, a time magazine poll in August of 1979 showed Kennedy leading Carter 62-24!!

You quote a Wikipedia article that doesn't address the data that I show.

I worked for Gary Hart in '84 in New Hampshire.  Anyone who thinks that win didn't remake the risk is an idiot.  

See the quotes at the top of the article, Hart went from down 40 to plus 7 in a week.

You simply repeat things and ignore the data.  You are wrong, as the data shows.  

At this point I really begin to question your intent.

In '91 nobody knew who the hell Clinton was.  His second in NH saved his candidacy, and the data clearly shows he was not the national front runner until after NH.

How someone can be a front runner and poll under 10 throughout all of 1991 escapes me.

Gore lead all the way - though the race closed 20 48-28.  Gore put Bradley away by winning Iowa and NH.

Proves my case.  National polling was irrelevant - Iowa and NH revived a candidacy that was dead.

by fladem 2007-08-20 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

well in all fairness to george, he's not used to someone being a thorough as you are being at refuting his bare assertion at every turn. Eventualy he or some acolyte will arrive to tell us that none of this matters. Why? because well none of this matters. I've been that road with some of them when I've actually been able to factually prove some assertion of theirs wrong. Just wondering when it will happen with what you are posting.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

Agreed.  He can't believe that he basically has been "out facted".  Great diary, highly recommended.

by iamready 2007-08-20 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

the point is however he want be "out facted." one of the reason why i say tactically (not substantively) the group most like bush right now are the Clinton supporters. george will a) eventually claim it doesnt matter  b) change the subject c) personal attack or d) spin. those are the 4 tools of choice.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

Totally, AGREE.

by iamready 2007-08-20 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

In my post I pointed out that clear national frontrunners have generally gone on to win the race with very few exceptions.   That was not related to your point about NH.  It is simply a known fact, historically.

Whatever you read into my post about "clear frontrunners" it was not at all to argue with you about the impact (temporary as it may be) of NH or Iowa.  Just to point out that "clear" frontrunner status over an extended period of time has historically been very important and predictive.

To some of your points:  

Bill Clinton did not announce his candidacy until October 3 of 1991.  I clearly stated that he became the frontrunner shortly after he announced.  Why then would you write: "How someone can be a front runner and poll under 10 throughout all of 1991 escapes me."  The polls you refer to were conducted BEFORE Clinton announced.  Clinton won the very important Florida straw poll in Dec. 1991 with 54% and with that had cemented his frontrunner status.   I showed you several accounts which identify Clinton as the Democratic frontrunner shortly after he announced.  Since you challenge that assertion, would you have the courtesy to show me competing accounts that talk about either Tsongas or Kerrey or Harkin as the national Democratic frontrunner, from, say, mid-October to late January?

Also: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/articl e/0,9171,974885,00.html

Paul Tsongas, Campaign '92's underdog of choice, passed a symbolic milestone last week. An aide to the Democratic front runner, Bill Clinton, suggested a reporter check out Tsongas' occasional lobbying activities on behalf of legal clients. Until recently the ex-Senator from Massachusetts was considered such a weak competitor that his rivals didn't bother to attack him. Now that his candidacy shows strong signs of surviving beyond the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, Tsongas must take his turn as target. He regards that as a compliment.

The above article talks about Bill Clinton as the Democratic frontrunner a week BEFORE the New Hampshire primaries, which contradicts this point you made:

"In '91 nobody knew who the hell Clinton was.  His second in NH saved his candidacy, and the data clearly shows he was not the national front runner until after NH."

The data actually does not show that.  Your own chart (NYT poll) shows Clinton having surged ahead of the rest of the field on Jan. 28, 1992 into a solid national frontrunner position (9% ahead of Brown, 12% ahead of Tsongas) whereas the NH primaries did not take place until February 18, 1992.

by georgep 2007-08-20 11:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Again

re: Carter-Kennedy -

Kennedy was not an announced candidate until November 7, 1979.  I don't see the value in comparing announced candidates with unannounced (vapor) candidates at any point.  We are not really doing that here with Gore, and I noticed you did not include Hillary Clinton and Al Gore in any of the 2004 polls, even though they both routinely outpolled Kerry/Edwards/Lieberman/Dean/Gephardt badly.  Sticking to announced candidates (and polls comparing them) is probably the most prudent.  Of course, as is often the case with "real" rather than mythical candidates, once Kennedy announced, his poll numbers vanished rapidly, pretty much immediately.  One part had to do with Kennedy's own doing:

Kennedy's official announcement was scheduled for early November. There was a prime time interview with CBS's Roger Mudd and it was a minor disaster. Kennedy flubbed a number of the questions and couldn't exactly explain why he was running, and the polls, which showed him leading the President by 58-25 in August now had him ahead 49-39.[4] Then the hostages were taken in Tehran, Iran and the bottom fell out of the Kennedy campaign.

Carter's approval ratings jumped in the 60-percent range in some polls, due to a "rally `round the flag" effect [5] and an appreciation of Carter's calm handling of the crisis. Kennedy was suddenly left far behind.

Think about Kennedy's predicament:  A vapor candidate until an announced "making it official" date of Nov. 7, 1997, but not only did Kennedy have a disastrous, unsatisfactory TV interview, a mere 3 days before his announcement day the hostage crisis in Tehran started, which of course brought with it a major "rallying around the president" effect, a major increase in Carter's popularity, and the death of any chances Edwards would have had for the nomination.  

I believe, given the circumstances and Carter's major rise in popularity immediately following the beginning of the hostage crisis, your assertion that Kennedy led Carter for all of 1979 is wrong, but I won't look late-1979 polls up at this point to confirm.  It is not important to the larger context, anyway.    

Look, you have done a lot of good work, and I appreciate the assembled data.   I never disagreed with your larger point that New Hampshire is important for the process.  Myself and others (including bloggers like Chris Bowers) simply believe that national polls are also important in many ways.  As you show in your data, NH was important some years, some years it was not.   I think that if the early primaries are split up, say, Edwards wins Iowa, Clinton wins New Hampshire, say, Edwards were to win Michigan, Obama wins South Carolina, Clinton wins Florida and Nevada, then you have a "mixed bag" in which case the prevailing national polls will then take over going into February 5.  The calendar is so bunched up that we won't have a lot of time to revel in one or the other result.  

I like the work you did, but I don't see the actual validity in this particular race, the way the calendar is shaping up.  Others do, which is cool.  

by georgep 2007-08-21 12:53AM | 0 recs
kind of fun to see

George get his ass handed to him so completely by someone who obviously knows a lot more about the subject.

by okamichan13 2007-08-21 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: This is just wrong

BTW, Mondale never trailed Hart.

Walter Mondale nearly accomplished the feat in the 1984 contest, never trailing but being tied with Gary Hart in March and early April of that year.  

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=26 803

by georgep 2007-08-20 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: This is just wrong

Only according to Gallup.

by Namtrix 2007-08-20 04:42PM | 0 recs

you really don't read.

CBS/NYT had the race 38-31 Hart.

by fladem 2007-08-20 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Man

Let me get this straight:  The Gallup organization had Mondale ahead in EVERY one of their polls except twice, where they showed an exact tie, but you have a CBS/NYT poll that shows differently, and therefore we are going with the premise that Hart was actually the frontrunner and not Mondale?   That seems to make little sense, since you are cherry picking from ONE poll whereas I showed that the entire polling Gallup conducted on the race showed Mondale pretty much ahead the entire time.  

by georgep 2007-08-20 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Man

you support your conclusion over his based on one polling organiztion when he brings so much more to the argument than this. you are nothing if not predictable

by bruh21 2007-08-20 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Man

I don't think I was speaking to you here, bruh21.  It was a rebuttal point that deserves a bit of scrutiny.  After all, with ARG getting the grief they are getting from posters around here, you would not want someone to state (20 yrs. from now) that the frontrunner in 2007 was so-and-so based on one picked poll.  You would want to look at all polling done.  Mondale was the frontrunner, except for a few polls here and there.  That does not take away from the larger point he was making (about NH,) but his post did nothing to refute my argument about frontrunners (at least reasonably clear ones) usually winning out in the end.  As Mondale did.  As Kerry did.  As Gore did.  etc.  

by georgep 2007-08-20 11:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Man

you do realize you are on a blog right? if you want to speak to just one person email them or else stop whining.

by bruh21 2007-08-21 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

Great diary with real research.

by Rooktoven 2007-08-20 02:29PM | 0 recs

Perhaps Clinton may be flirting with a different kind of inevitabilty than she bargained for...

by AdamSmithsHand 2007-08-20 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm...

My friend- apolitical - says that if clinton thinks she is going to have an easy time of this she's crazy. I tend to listen to the apolitical who vote mroe than I do the political junkies- unless they are like FL DEm who is doing an excellent job of restoring for oen diary at least why I used to come to this site. Real analysis based on real data rather than a hope and prayer masquerading as substance.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

It's about when it's time to vote,are the people going to put there money where there mouth is or is it just all talk,we'll see.

by blue time 2007-08-20 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

It's problematic though, given that Clinton/Edwards/Obama have such high name recognition, 80 percent and above; that so many voters (primary) are polled as already paying attention compared to previous election; and better and more polling being done.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-20 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

the best line was above- every election cycle people claim that the election cycle then happening is so unique and unlike any in history. 2004 was the election to end all elections. now you are selling the same goods.

by bruh21 2007-08-20 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

It's only a weakness to argue it might be unique if you are able to factually dispute the premise of why I said it differs; you instead dismiss the premise without even considering the position. That type of hobgoblin thinking consistently is proven wrong.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-21 01:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

I dismiss it because what else do we have to go on other than past behavior? YOu can certainly as you do cite where changed circumstances, but each race is unique. That doesn't take away from the analysis here.

by bruh21 2007-08-21 06:27AM | 0 recs
Actually its proven right

that seems to be one of the points of this diary.

by okamichan13 2007-08-21 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

to be clear- I am not claiming that there isn't any validity to such an argument. its just an extremely weak argument to argue uniqueness with regard to trying to figure out what all of this analysis on mydd about the polls means in terms of historical analysis. it is also a weak claim to say that many voters are tuned in. where are you seeing this heightened interest?

by bruh21 2007-08-20 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

Both MyDD, OpenLeft, and Pollster did extensive posting on this within the last month.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-21 01:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

But still the vast majority of people are still not paying attention to this election. More people are paying attention to the trapped coal miner;s in Utah or hurricane dEAN THAN TO THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS ON A NATIONAL LEVEL,

by BDM 2007-08-20 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Why National Polls Don't Matter (mostly)

The vast majority of the people don't vote in the primaries and caucuses either. It's only 5-6 percent that will vote in Iowa, for example.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-21 01:18AM | 0 recs
One critical reason

that they don't matter is that choice will look completely different.

In Iowa and New Hampshire the race is on, and the polls look completely different than the National numbers.  

After Iowa and New Hampshire candidates will drop out, and the choice will look completely different again, in part because of the news cycles which run like this:

Sat and Sun before Iowa: Saturation coverage of Iowa.
Monday: Reporting on Iowa
Tuesday: Post mortems on Iowa
Weds: More postmortems, first partial data in NH polling showing the effect of Iowa.
Thursday: Complete Shock: NH polling changes as full impact of Iowa shows up in NH polling
Friday: More horse race coverage
Sat, Sunday and Monday: Actual coverage of the race in NH, though very poll driven.  Candidates not finishing in the top three in Iowa get no coverage.
Tuesday: NH primary
Weds: post mortem of NH results
Thursday: First impact of NH seen in National

For nearly two full weeks the media coverage will completely re-make the race.  This cycle, so predictable, seems poorly understood.

Underneath all of this reporting will come full blast talk of electability - which won't have played a big role in the race until the final days in Iowa.  This issue - which always plays a huge role in who wins the nomination - will be  re-inforced by  the results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The impact of NH does fade: 3 weeks later Hart had given back 7 points nationally in '84, Tsongas lost 5 points in 3 weeks after NH in '92 and even the bump Gore got out of NH faded (The exception here is Kerry who never did fade).

The central issue in '08 is whether the NH effect begins to fade before the primaries on Feb 5th.

by fladem 2007-08-20 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: One critical reason

Yes, I agree with that argument, although my guess is that Iowa winds up on the 5th of Jan and New Hampshire on the 8th. The more pivotal primary for Feb 5th will be Florida.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-21 01:22AM | 0 recs
The schedule changes

matter a great deal.  The more time between Iowa and NH and Feb 5th, the more important SC and Florida become.  Also, if you are right, Iowa's proximity to NH may lessen Iowa's impact on NH.  

by fladem 2007-08-21 05:00AM | 0 recs
by iamready 2007-08-20 08:00PM | 0 recs


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