Sabato’s Crystal Ball: THE ELECTORAL BAROMETER VS. THE POLLS
I missed several Sabato’s Crystal Ball emails due to accidental unsubscribing. Here is the last of many make-up posts.
A question that keeps arising in connection with this year’s presidential race is why, given the extremely favorable political environment for Democrats, Barack Obama has not been able to establish a clear lead over John McCain in national polls. Based on President Bush’s extraordinarily low approval ratings (28 percent in the most recent Gallup Poll), a deteriorating economy, and the fact that Republicans have controlled the White House for the past eight years, the political environment this year appears to be one of the worst for the party in power in the past sixty years.
The Electoral Barometer, a measure of national political conditions that combines these three factors, currently yields a reading of -62, which is similar to that received by Jimmy Carter prior to his decisive loss to Ronald Reagan. Yet according to the most recent realclearpolitics.com average, Barack Obama is only leading John McCain by about four percentage points in recent national polls.
Should we place more weight on polls showing a neck and neck race between Obama and McCain or indicators of the political environment that predict a decisive victory for the Democratic candidate?