A poll released this morning for the presidential election in November shows that President Obama and Governor Romney are tied at 47%. And it’s a ridiculous waste of time to give this poll any notice, much less to write anything about it. So here goes.
Presidential elections aren’t decided by the popular vote. 47% of the people surveyed in a poll, probably over the telephone, aren’t indicative of anything. Each person in the 47% lives in one state or another, and those people’s opinions mean nothing at all. Their votes are important in November, if they even go out to vote, but there’s no indication they will. A “likely voter” relies on the word of the person being surveyed, and taking a few minutes to answer questions on the telephone isn’t the same as showing up at the ballot box in November.
But getting back to the states for a moment, the places where each of these 47% live matters a lot. If Obama’s 47% includes more people in Pennsylvania, and Romney’s 47% includes more in Ohio, then it’s advantage Obama because Pennsylvania has 20 Electoral votes and Ohio has 18. But neither state alone has enough Electoral votes to determine anything by itself, either.
This election will be 47% to 47%, give or take a couple of points either way, from now until November. Why? Because the media has a vested interest in this state of affairs. A close, it-could-go-either-way election means that the pundits and commentators they have hired are a good investment. And it means money will come pouring in to the campaigns and PACs, who will then turn around and buy ads in every place they can think of. It’s a profit deal, as Steve Martin figured out in The Jerk, and the more interested the media can keep the American public over the summer and into the fall, the more money they stand to make.
Please keep these things in mind over the coming four months. And as long as you go out to the polls in November and vote for the candidate of your choice–whoever that is–then a poll taken in July really means nothing at all.