So, What Do These Polls of Presidential Candidates Mean in Real Life?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Peter Stevens https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Peter Stevens https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/

I haven’t written about the obsessive early polling of presidential candidates for one simple reason: I think it’s ridiculous.

Asking voters a year or more out from an election who they will vote for is like asking a 12-year-old girl to describe her future husband. What you will get in either case is a dream scenario that does not resemble what will actually happen when things get real.

I also think that debates this far out are, in a word, stupid. It’s showmanship, aimed at getting ratings. By the time the first vote is cast next spring, the voting public is already going to be sick of the spectacle.

However, I got a request to talk about the debates yesterday, and that led me to explain a bit of how these things work in real life in a post for CatholicVote. Here’s a bit of what I said:

Donald Trump is now neck and neck with Dr Ben Carson in polling data. Despite this, Mr Trump’s numbers have not fallen all that much.

How has this happened?

It’s simple, really. It’s also what usually happens in political races with lots of candidates. First, candidates drop out. That has been occurring in the Republican presidential marathon. As candidates drop out, voters who were backing them shift to other candidates. Over time, support begins to consolidate behind one candidate.

Donald Trump came out of the gate ahead of the pack. He led the field by a wide margin. But I noticed something interesting about his lead. The numbers held steady. What that meant is that he had a certain group of Republican voters behind him and they were solid in their support. But it looked as if that group was all he might get.

In short, he had a great starter set, but his ability to get over 50% seemed weak. I kind of expected that as candidates dropped out and the field began to consolidate, someone besides Mr Trump would pick up the gains. That is what has happened.

At the same time, Dr Carson’s success has fueled a drop in Mr Trump’s support. Dr Carson is not only managing to consolidate support that was previously going to candidate who have dropped out of the race, he is beginning to leach support away from Mr Trump.

Does that mean that Dr Carson is the likely nominee?

– See more at: http://www.catholicvote.org/so-how-exactly-does-the-polling-work/#sthash.3uJyB9KW.dpuf

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