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A Wierd Night in Indiana

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , Hillary Clinton , Newsweek

Ben Smith had a great catch yesterday from the Newsweek cover story on the Obama campaign:

On the night before Indiana and North Carolina, [Obama chief strategist David] Axelrod appeared unusually grim and gloomy. The final night of internal polling showed Obama 12 points down in Indiana against Clinton--a disastrous collapse after two or three days of closing the gap. The campaign's pollsters cautioned that the last night's sample seemed weird and they should rely instead on the three-day rolling average of 2 points. But Axelrod feared the worst, that Wright had sunk the campaign in Indiana and possibly in North Carolina, too.

The next day, after visiting some polling stations, Obama arrived back at his hotel and stopped by the coffee shop, where he urged some curious bystanders to vote for him. When a NEWSWEEK reporter asked him about Axelrod's gloomy prognosis, Obama shrugged and said: "It is what it is. We've had a month, two months of bad stuff. It's been hard to change the storyline." He smiled and walked out to get ready for his now traditional Election Day game of basketball. If he was at all worried, as his senior staff was, he hid his concerns successfully from the outside world.

Smith concludes that this story is a "great anecdote reminding journalists -- and campaign staffers -- to be careful when looking at polls, especially the daily tracking polls." True, but the bigger caution ought to be about putting too much faith in any survey result -- and that includes quite a few in the public domain -- based on just a single night's calling.

Also, for what it's worth, Mark Halperin has a video interview with Axelrod that includes words of praise for the campaign's four pollsters.

 

Comments
Thatcher:

Speaking of "wierd night" ... does anyone but me expect one tonight with the results? Edwards is still on the ballot (I know, he's not fairing much better than 4% on WV polls). However, look at Huckabee (who's out) and Paul (who's still "in") on recent Republican Primaries. When McCain isn't even pulling 80% when he is the presumptive nominee because of Republicans coming out to vote for "anyone but McCain". What about the "anyone but Clinton or Obama" vote? Or the voter leaning for Clinton because Edwards is out who then sees Edwards on the ballot? (I mean of all the states where Edwards supporters went to Clinton - this and Kentucky are those two states).

Could we see Edwards almost reach double-digits? This would hurt Clinton's spread (taking it from high 30's-low 40's down to about 30%).

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damitajo1:

Gore got 72% of WV, 74% of PA, 70% of NC...This is just from random clicking of exit polls in later states. Gore won the popular vote and definitely had the Dem base.

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Mark Lindeman:

Thatcher, I don't see it. It's possible -- one certainly can't tell either way from the pre-election polls -- but I'll take the other side of the bet. In fact, I'll rashly say under 5%.

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