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Time's Election Index

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

In addition to their new national survey that we posted on yesterday, Time is debuting a new "Election Index" feature. In a related piece on the surprisingly early start to the election season, Time's Karen Tumulty describes it as follows:

To track voter sentiment--and candidates' odds of winning--TIME is launching the Election Index, a regular feature that will pinpoint the intersection of how much Americans know about each candidate and how much they like what they see. The surprising news is that this week's Election Index puts former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani ahead of Arizona Senator John McCain, despite the latter's formidable organization and resources, for the top spot in the G.O.P. Hillary Clinton leads the Democrats, but the Election Index (see page 34) shows she has slightly less potential general-election support than Giuliani.

The index (shown graphically for Democrats and Republicans) appears to combine survey measures data other than the traditional horse race question (the percentage who have never heard of a candidate and, among those who know the candidate, the percentage that are favorable, will definitely support that candidate or think they will win) with non-survey measures (betting odds and number of blog posts linking to a candidates web site).  I say "appears" because Time does does not tell us exactly how they constructed the index nor what the precise score is for each candidate.  The graphic rank orders the candidates -- and Tumulty's piece tells us that  

Hopefully more details will follow.  Meanwhile, the brief introduction of the feature makes this entirely valid point about the shortcomings of early trial heat results:

Pundits and bloggers would do well to tape a copy of these poll results, from ABC-Washington Post in January of 2003, on their monitors/mirrors/most viewed flat surface in their office:

Joseph Lieberman 27 Richard Gephardt 14 John Edwards 11 John Kerry 10 Al Sharpton 7 Howard Dean 3 Don't know 24

Looking back at the last open GOP race, over a year and half out from election day, the results are less shocking than the prospect of a Lieberman-Gephardt ticket, but they do tend to support the hypothesis that early polls aren't so much even popularity contests as trivia quizzes (The question being, "Have you ever heard of this person before?")

 

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