Not a day goes by when someone in the media announces with a faint tinge of expertise that Obama is up in the polls and Romney is down or Romney is in a statistical tie with the President and appears to be cutting into the President’s lead. We are poll obsessed, even though the only poll that matters happens all day November 6 when the American people cast their vote.
Yet despite the fact that only one poll is the definitive answer to the question, who will be the next president of the United States, we continue to be inundated with polling results from organizations that most of us have never heard of and have little insight as to whether they know what they are doing.
If you happen to be a poll watcher, let me give you two sources that have a track record of success. The Rasmussen polling organization has a history of getting it right. Even though liberals are suspicious of Rasmussen because of its ties to the Fox Network, a study by Fordham University, which ranked polling organizations based on their accuracy over time in a range of elections, name Rasmussen as the most reliable. So when Rasmussen says that Obama is only two percentage points ahead of Romney – a statistical tie – he certainly should not be dismissed as some Fox crony looking to pump up conservatives.
But if you don’t like to believe Rasmussen polling, you can go to the 538 blog of Nate Silver. Silver, who writes for the New York Times ( among other venues) is not a pollster but a math whiz and stats guy who examines all the polling numbers and comes up with his analytical assessment of what the data show. Silver is a kind of a Vegas odds maker, but in 2008 he called correctly 49 out of the 50 states.
This year Silver is convinced that Obama will win and even says that he is 80% certain that the President will regain the White House. The percentage of his victory will be around 52%. Silver has Obama winning all but two of the states that he took in 2008 – Virginia and North Carolina- and doesn’t see how Romney can put together enough electoral votes to capture the golden ring.
So there you have it – either a statistical tie with no clear winner or a runaway by the President. Both Rasmussen and Silver are good at what they do and are not ideologues anxious to spin a polling victory for Obama or Romney, which leaves us with the same question that is on the minds of most Americans – Who will win the Presidency in November. We will just have to wait for the only poll that matters.