Polls Wrong! Obama Losing!

Stories from RedState, Strata-Sphere and elsewhere that the massive early voting so far isn’t going overwhelmingly for Barack Obama as expected have Memeorandum abuzz.

While it’s understandable that John McCain supporters are grasping for any good news they can find, the idea that California is “very tight,” let alone that “in the less liberal states [Obama] is in real trouble” is just absurd. While it’s interesting, if true, that Obama is up only slightly with the 210,000 early votes in California, it’s simply not within the realm of possibility that he’ll lose.  Aside from the quirky Rasmussen survey, Obama is leading by at least ten points in every California poll. McCain isn’t even pretending to campaign there.

Early voters are a small, self-selected sample of the universe of voters.  Their behavior can’t easily be extrapolated to Election Day outcomes.

As Bruce McQuain notes, there’s a real possibility that McCain will lose Georgia.  My guess is that he won’t and will in fact retain most of the Bush states from 2000 and 2004 that are currently polling close.  There’s the ever-so-slight possibility that he’ll win in Pennsylvania — which Al Gore and John Kerry won the last two times out — and make it very interesting.   But there are no hard core blue states where he’s even remotely competitive.

“Redalert” is right to urge people so inclined to “Ignore the pundits. Forget the polls. Get out there and vote for John McCain.”  The polls are a snapshot in time, a lot of states are close, turnout matters, etc., etc.   I’ve already voted in Virginia, a state that’s very much in play, and will be glued to the returns next Tuesday night.   Until and unless McCain loses Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, or Ohio, I’ll continue to hope for an upset.

At the same time, however, I’d advise getting used to the idea of a President Obama.  It’s by far the most likely outcome.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. So, where do you think the Dow Jones will close on November 5?

    President Obama is merely a symptom of a larger problem — a people who have come to care less about freedom and self reliance than a desire to have someone else do for them. Congratulations Democrats! At long last, you have succeeded in creating a class system in America and are now prepared to reap the rewards whirlwind for having done so.

  2. JanniJasper says:

    I think when Obama’s Name is posted inside the voting booth, behind the curtain,it should include his full name. Barack Hussein Obama. Maybe people will think,,,,

    I also think that Hillary will be more respected if she endorsed McCain. After what Obama did to her?? Look what Colin Powell did..

  3. Anderson says:

    I also think that Hillary will be more respected if she endorsed McCain.

    The answer depends upon “respected by *whom*?”

    After what Obama did to her??

    Defeated her in a democratic electoral process?

  4. Alex Knapp says:


    Perhaps if the Republicans had actually been advocates of the free market instead of favoring policies that incentivized moribund businesses to maintain market share without competing and disincentivized entrepeneurship things would have been different. 8 years of stagnant median wages are a testament to how off-kilter GOP economic policies are and how divorced they are from free enterprise.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    James, you and Alex should be very afrain as the first to go is the intelligencia. Re-education and all. And they said it could not happen here.

  6. carpeicthus says:

    Your spoof is showing, Zelsdorf.

  7. JKB says:

    What can you say. The public polls don’t seem all that unbiased these days. Perhaps on purpose, perhaps by some poor assumptions. The Corner has a post about one poll already calling the election for Obama.

    All we do know is that the only poll that counts is the one taken by confidential ballot on Nov 4th.

    I found this opinion piece by a Brit to be a funny read. Not sure if she is being sarcastic or reporting as she see it but the take and presentation is amusing. And a decent comment on where the election stands, i.e., depends on your hopes and fears.

  8. jc says:

    i doubt mccain wins california….but, with prop 8 making a lot of noise in california there is a chance that mccain gets a boost from increased turn-out. as an analogy i am thinking of the bradley election and its alternative explanation:


  9. Alex, I carry no water for the Republicans and have been rather consistent and adamant that John McCain is not much of an improvement over Barrack Obama. It is depressing to note that Republicans as a group are just as corrupt as Democrats. Now, there’s something to brag about, eh? I think you interpret my broadsides on the various flavors of Obamamania as being motivated by a desire to pump up John McCain or Republicans. That would be a mistake.

    FWIW, the reasons I like Sarah Palin have a lot to do with the abandonement of traditional American virtues and mores by both parties. That is the part of her appeal that you, James, and others frequently overlook. I much prefer someone whose heart and basic instincts are correct than someone who can speak well and actively encourages a cult of personality, someone who has has an extensive resume a mile wide and three inches deep, or someone who just makes shit up as he goes but never gets called on it. You can decide which of those descriptions apply to the candidates, but I digress.

    I think you are rather selective in your recitation of facts to lay all the economic bad news at the feet of Republican policies. Was that 9/11 thing due to Republican policies? Or do you think that played no role in some of the economic difficulties the past eight years? Was it Republican policies that created the Internet and dot com bubbles that blew up and knocked off 60% of the NASDAQ just as Bill Clinton was signing the last pardons in his final days in office? Wasn’t NCLB a bipartisan initiative between George Bush and Ted Kennedy? Hard to remember the last time Ted’s name came up in connection to that fiasco. Didn’t Democrats vote for the Prescription Drug Program? The economic stimulus checks? The bailouts? Was it Republican policies that have resisted oil exploration in this country for the last ten years? Or the building of nuclear power plants for the last thirty? Was it Republican policies that cause American automakers to keep their heads up their respective asses? Was it Republican policies that stood in the way of heading off the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crises before they blew up? Hasn’t the current Democrat controlled Congress presided over the single largest increase in federal expenditures in history? And it is Congress, not the executive that authorizes spending. How in the world do you think all the economic ills of the past 8 years are strictly due to Republiocan malfeasance? I agree they haven’t done much good, but that doesn’t mean I want the road to be graded a little more steeply downhill moving forward.

  10. just me says:

    I think the polls that have Obama winning by double digit or even close to it percentage points are way off base. It is rare that more then 3 or 4 percentage points separate the candidates.

    My guess is still that Obama wins, but I think popular vote wise it is going to be far closer than the polls indicate. I think the real question is whether or not the electoral vote is close or a landslide. My guess is that it will be a pretty sizable win for Obama-but it is hard to say because the state polls have really been all over the place as well.

    But I do think it the problem with the polls is that they may suppress the vote-if one group thinks their candidate is doomed to lose, they may not bother voting or the reverse could be true. so maybe they cancel each other out.

  11. Joe R. says:

    Defeated her in a democratic electoral process?

    While I agree with you that he defeated her, I don’t consider the current primary system to be democratic. A caucus is not democratic, nor is the decision to ignore early voting by two states.