Ruy Teixeira gives today's tracking polls some much-needed perspective, comparing several to the same polls from 2000, which had Bush heading into the election with a stronger showing than actually materialized at the polls.
"Today the TIPP tracking poll was a tie; at this time before the 2000 election, it was +5 Bush.
Today the Zogby tracking poll was a tie; at this time before the 2000 election, it was +3 Bush.
Today, the WP/ABC tracking poll (LV) was +3 Bush; at this time before the 2000 election, it was also +3 Bush...where it stayed, with a brief detour to +4, until its final poll, thereby missing the actual popular vote margin by 3.5 percentage points.
Today, the Rasmussen poll was +2 Bush; no information available on where it was at this point before the 2000 election (and it wouldn't be strictly comparable anyway, since Rasmussen has substantially changed their methodology since then), but it seems safe to say that Bush's margin was far larger -- their final poll, after all, had Bush winning by 9 points."
The "breathe, people" theme has been a popular one over at Ruy's blog in recent days, as he's been trying to remind fretting Democrats of the lessons of 2000. "It's time to revisit the thrilling polls of yesteryear to get a sense of just how much the polls in 2000 tended to overestimate Bush's strength and underestimate Gore's," Teixeira wrote last Wednesday. "I believe, for reasons I have discussed at length, the polls are likely overestimating Bush's strength this year as well. But this year, Kerry is doing better in the polls than Gore did at the equivalent point in the 2000 race. Therefore, if current polls are overestimating Bush's strength by the same amount as in 2000, Kerry should wind up doing better than Gore on election day -- and Gore won the popular vote by half a point. And that's not even factoring in the likelihood that, with Bush as the incumbent, Kerry will receive the bulk of undecided voters' support on election day."