My comparison from a week and a half ago of how Obama’s polling numbers match up with Kerry’s polling in 2004, Gore’s in 2000 and Clinton’s in 1996 has surprisingly become the most visited page on this blog since. Considering the interest, I thought it would be good to provide a last-day update on how the comparison is shaping up at the end of the campaign.
There are four daily tracking polls this year that also conducted daily tracking polls in either 2000 or 2004 or both. The comparison between the races shapes up differently depending on which pollster’s numbers you look at. The best known is Gallup, and this graph compares Obama’s performance versus McCain in the Gallup poll with Kerry’s, Gore’s and Clinton’s performance against their Republican opponents:
Looking good indeed; the 11-point lead Gallup showed for Obama in its final presidential estimate last night is on par with its election-day polling lead for Bill Clinton in ’96. While Clinton’s ample lead gradually eroded over the course of the last two weeks of campaigning, Obama’s held steady. Quite the difference with the nailbiters the last Gallup polls out predicted for the 2000 and 2004 races.
TIPP is a polling firm you may not have heard of; it has conducted a daily tracking poll for the Investors Business Daily this year, and for IBD and the Christian Science Monitor in earlier years. Of the seven tracking polls that were conducted on a daily basis in the last two weeks, this poll has tended to show the smallest Obama leads of all. When McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt asserted, two weeks ago, that “the McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush,” the TIPP poll was the only poll that confirmed his assertion.
Today, however, brings good news for Obama supporters: after oscillating between a 1-point and 5-point lead for Obama for two weeks, TIPP published a final estimate last night that had Obama leading by 7.2%. And that makes the comparison over the years look like this:
Again, a clear difference with previous election cycles. In the last TIPP poll out in 2000 and 2004, the Democrat was behind by just two points, guaranteeing a tight race. For this year no such squeaker is projected.
ABC and the Washington Post started its tracking poll just two weeks ago this year. It’s had Obama in a very consistent lead throughout, one that went up and down in a very narrow band of 7-11%. It has wrapped its poll up right in line with those numbers, projecting an 9-point victory.
With that, ABC polling provides the starkest contrast here between now and the previous two elections:
No comparison there. Gore and Kerry ended the race both narrowly running behind, by just 1-3 points. McCain faces a much larger gap, and has done so throughout the past two weeks.
The final pollster that had a tracking poll out both this year and in at least one of the two previous cycles is Zogby (Actually, there is one more: Rasmussen; but I couldn’t find back it’s day-by-day numbers for the 2004 and 2000 races.)
Zogby-bashing has of course become something of an art form, but comprehensive is comprehensive, and his poll is commissioned by C-Span and Reuters. So here is the graph for how his polling for Obama matches up with the numbers it measured for Gore and Kerry:
More good news here: Zogby’s polling this past month has been among the most erratic of the tracking polls, but overall it’s tended to have comparatively small Obama leads. Zogby’s gone all out with its final tally, however, measuring an 11-point lead. That puts it at the very high end of where the daily tracking polls have the race; only Gallup has it equally high.
Taking a look at the other polls this year as well, this is where the daily tracking polls have wrapped up their observations. Gallup, Zogby and ABC/WaPo foresee a 9-11 point Obama victory, while Rasmussen, Hotline, Research 2000 and TIPP have his lead at a more modest 5-7 points. See for more info last night’s daily tracking polls update – just note today’s last numbers for Zogby and TIPP (discussed above), Rasmussen (steady at a 6-point Obama lead) and Research 2000 (down a point at a 5-point Obama lead).
Finally, I’ve preferred to do orange-to-orange comparisons by individual pollsters above, but any comparison between the polling now and in previous cycles would be incomplete without this graph from Pollster.com. It compares its trademark trendlines, based on all available national polls, for this race and previous years. They last updated it on 30 October – click on the image for the original post with full-size graph.