Maybe it’s the compressed primary schedule. Maybe it’s climate change. Whatever the reasons, the polls can’t seem to predict predictably, as former-Governor Romney’s convincing win in Michigan demonstrates.
Of the six polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com, three showed Senator John McCain ahead in Michigan. OK, only by one point, well within the margin of error, so let’s say they called it a tie.
Three others had Governor Romney ahead, by six points, five points and eight points. With 89 percent of the precincts in, native son Romney is winning by nine percentage points. So, half the polls got it way wrong; two were within the margin of error; and one just beyond it. Let’s call it a .500 batting average. In baseball that would be great. In politics, it’s not so good.
Which means today’s polls showing Senator Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead of Senator Barack Obama in delegate rich California somewhat less than comforting for the Clinton campaign. A Los Angeles Times/CNN/Politico poll showed Senator Clinton leading Senator Obama 47 percent to 36 percent. If the final results are close to this it would be a landslide victory for the New York Senator. But that’s a big “if.”
The poll itself indicates how fluid the race is in California. Four in 10 respondents said they could still change their minds. And the results coming out of Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida might be reasons to reconsider their support. Another wild card: if former-Senator John Edwards loses in both Nevada and South Carolina, his campaign is over whether he accepts it or not. The poll pegged his support in California at 10 percent. Who would these voters turn to?
So even if polls meant anything this election cycle, the Clinton campaign would be unable to take California for granted. But after the polls missed her win in New Hampshire and, for the most part, underestimated Governor Romney’s strength in Michigan, no candidate in any state at any time should take anything for granted.