The problem with polls

You don't have to be a political scientist to know that polling -- thanks in part to the ubiquity of cell phones -- is a lot less reliable in the past. Scott MacKay and Mark Arsenault take a look at the trend in today's ProJo:

Pollsters say this race is a perfect storm of uncertainty, with a volatile electorate, well-financed campaigns, and record voter turnout that makes predicting who will show up to vote more difficult.

In New Hampshire, the major polls put Obama ahead by an average of about 8 points in the days before the vote, according to the poll-tracking Web site Clinton narrowly won the state, and the political junkies who devour polls were left to wonder what happened.

Many more recent polls have vastly underestimated the margins of Obama’s big victories in his streak of 11 consecutive primary and caucus wins.

“Polling a primary is far more difficult than polling a general election,” says national pollster Scott Rasmussen. “You’ve never seen anything like this on the Democratic side.”

Democrats this year are generally pleased with both of their candidates. “They’re having a hard time deciding, and they’re deciding late,” he said. “One of the things we’ve been pointing out on our polls recently is that many of these voters are saying they still might change their mind before voting. It’s typically 25 or 30 percent. That just automatically makes it fluid and very difficult to poll.”

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