The nominating conventions, when the Democratic and Republican parties will pick their general election candidates, are more than 15 months away. This far out, polls are generally not worth wasting pixels on. But NPR readers had a good question for their Ombudsman: “Why are the single digit also-rans in the Republican Party being treated with more respect than Sen. Bernie Sanders who is pulling in 15% in the Democratic Party primary polls?”
Here is a recent Q-Poll (May 28th):
If the Democratic primary for President were being held today, and the candidates were Joe Biden, Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb, for whom would you vote?
Clinton 57%, Sanders 15%, Biden 9%, Chafee 1%, O’Malley 1%, Webb 1%, Someone Else 1%, Wouldn’t Vote 2%, Don’t Know 14%
If the Republican primary for President were being held today, and the candidates were Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker, for whom would you vote?
Bush 10%, Carson 10, Huckabee 10, Rubio 10, Walker 10, Paul 7, Cruz 6, Trump 5, Christie 4, Fiorina 2, Kasich 2, Graham 1, Jindal 1, Perry 1, Pataki -, Santorum -, Someone Else -, Wouldn’t Vote 1, Don’t Know 20
The bigger question is whether any of these candidates can win a primary. Paul? I doubt it. Cruz? No way. Christie or Trump? HAHAHAHAHA!
Here is what NPR said, by the way:
Michael Oreskes, NPR’s editorial director and senior vice president for news, in a letter to the Columbia Journalism Review editors that he shared with me, wrote, “we do not use polling to allocate coverage,” adding: “Even mildly experienced political journalists and their editors understand that polls at this stage capture little more than name recognition.”
The bigger challenge, he wrote, “is what I’d call the paradigm problem,” that is, when “We get a certain paradigm in our heads. A conventional wisdom. Someone is a front runner, someone else a long shot. We develop this paradigm from a witches’ brew of polling, money, instinct and the ineffable judgments of the chattering classes of political ‘experts.’ ” The only antidote, he added, “is reporting.”
… going forward, as the campaign coverage gears up, I do hope that NPR will back off on what seems to me to be the overuse of dismissive terms, such as “long-shot,” to describe Sanders, or any of the multitude of presidential candidates, whatever their party affiliation.
As Oreskes wrote elsewhere in his letter: “Political journalists should not try to pick winners and losers. That’s the job of voters. Predicting the outcome of elections isn’t really very interesting and we aren’t any good at it anyway.“
Exactly! Leave that up to Karl Rove and his “special math” …
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