In the polls


Geraldine Sealey
January 26, 2004 9:26PM (UTC)

Making predictions based on tracking polls is dangerous business, especially in New Hampshire, where voters are famously independent-minded. The New York Times looks at the imperfect science of forecasting voting behavior and warns against relying too heavily on what pollsters say even a day before the primary. Along with the usual complicating factors for New Hampshire -- rules that make it impossible to know who'll vote and minds that change at the last minute -- come a new set of issues. Cellphone users can't be reached by pollsters, thus are invisible in surveys, and fast-changing demographics in New Hampshire could change the outcome in unforeseen ways.

So, yes, the polls could be wrong -- very wrong. But reading polls is fun. Here are a few of the latest from New Hampshire: The ARG tracking poll shows Kerry at 38 percent, Dean at 20 percent, Edwards at 16 percent, Clark at 15 percent, Lieberman at 5 percent and undecideds at 5 percent.

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The latest Boston Globe/WBZ-TV tracking poll shows Kerry with a 20-point lead over Dean. The poll says 37 percent favor Kerry, 17 percent Dean, 12 percent Edwards, 11 percent Clark, 7 percent Lieberman. Fourteen percent say they're undecided.

The Zogby poll shows Kerry with a 3 point lead -- a much closer race than other tracking polls show. He has Kerry at 31 percent, Dean at 28 percent, Clark at 13 percent, Edwards at 12 percent, Lieberman at 9 percent and undecideds at 13 percent.

The American Research Group released new polling data for three of the states holding primaries on Feb. 3. The undecideds are high, but the trend seems to show Dean falling in the polls and other candidates benefiting from his plunge.

John Kerry and Wesley Clark lead in Arizona as Howard Dean drops to fourth place. Kerry has 24 percent, Clark has 21 percent, Edwards has 15 percent and Dean has 10 percent -- down from 26 percent for Dean in a December ARG poll.

Wesley Clark leads in Oklahoma as Howard Dean drops to fifth place. Since the last ARG poll there in December, Dean dropped from 24 percent to 8 percent, and John Edwards leapt from 3 percent to 18 percent, putting him in second place behind Clark, who has 23 percent.

John Edwards leads in South Carolina with John Kerry a close second. Edwards has 21 percent, up from 8 percent in December. Kerry has 17 percent, up from 2 percent in December. Dean has 9 percent, down from 16 percent in December, when he ranked first in the ARG poll.

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Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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