October 30th, 2008
07:55 PM ET

Don't let the polls affect your vote

Karl Rove
GOP Strategist and Former Deputy White House Chief of Staff

There has been an explosion of polls this presidential election. Through yesterday, there have been 728 national polls with head-to-head matchups of the candidates, 215 in October alone. In 2004, there were just 239 matchup polls, with 67 of those in October. At this rate, there may be almost as many national polls in October of 2008 as there were during the entire year in 2004.

Some polls are sponsored by reputable news organizations, others by publicity-eager universities or polling firms on the make. None have the scientific precision we imagine.

For example, academics gathered by the American Political Science Association at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington on Aug. 31, 2000, to make forecasts declared that Al Gore would be the winner. Their models told them so. Mr. Gore would receive between 53% and 60% of the two-party vote; Gov. George W. Bush would get between just 40% and 47%. Impersonal demographic and economic forces had settled the contest, they said. They were wrong.

Right now, all the polls show Barack Obama ahead of John McCain, but the margins vary widely (in part because some polls use an "expanded" definition of a likely voter, while others use a "traditional" polling model, which assumes turnout will mirror historical trends but with a higher turnout among African-Americans and young voters).


Filed under: 2008 Election • Raw Politics
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rachel Farris

    I'm not going by the polls. They haven't asked me yet so I figure they haven't hit enough people to really know. I just hope they are right becasue I am banking on Obama to be our next President. I have seldom voted for the loser so I'm hoping my instincts will not let me down. I'm surprised these polls show Palin and McCain doing well at all or even close the way their campaign has been run. I'm thinking a lot of racists wont vote for Obama but that's between them and their Maker. Someday they'll be thankful of the freedom to chose but the attitude in which they did so if that be the case.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  2. Vegas

    I'd be willing to bet that you will be calling this over after the east coast is done in an effort to make mid-west voters stay home...

    It's over... don't waste your time...

    You've done it in the last two... so we shall see...

    October 31, 2008 at 11:23 am |
  3. susan

    the polls mean nothing! the only thing that matters is the electoral college vote and mccain will win!!! if not the conservative supreme court justices will make him president! go mcsame and sarah plain!

    October 31, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  4. sharon from Indy

    Mr. Rove is the person who was part of the Big Lie that was fed to Americans about the Iraq War. I take whatever he says as not having any worth.

    October 31, 2008 at 9:32 am |
  5. Rod

    The polls didn't affect my decision. What affected my decision is the fact that Obama is energetic, hopeful, for the working man. He's in touch with what the country's fabric is made of. You guys are spooky and dangerous. All the fear and gloom and doom, the cronyism. The implied threats turn me against anyone that resorts to such deplorable tactics. Why don't you put your efforts into things more constructive. Your good at identifying real and perceived problems, but what have your answers lead to? My country has never had to deal with the frequency of body blows like you guys have delivered. Do I feel the country is safer today? No. Is the country better off today? No. Is the country more divided than ever? Yes. Do the people of this country have more sorrow , today? Yes Ponder these things and reflect on your actions. If these are the things that you find pride in, then you have found your niche. Now that the damage is done, you can find work as a lobbist for some foreign country. Now go find a buddy to slap on the back and say, "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie." Spin that brownie into a Texas rose!

    October 31, 2008 at 7:31 am |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    Karl rove is brilliant he is simply saying to Americans, we lose the presidential ballot but put in the checks and balances when you vote for Senators or House representatives.
    Popular vote obama wins and just, and maybe 285 electoral college votes. The independents will differentiate and put in the checks and balances, an indirect victory for the Republicans and leading to a Partisan environment again. This crisis needs real power to either Republicans or Democrats, and it's the economy first and international diplomacy and reputation ( not wars) second.
    Without real power to address those 2 issues neither side can deliver the goods, or unfortunately fail to deliver the goods.
    This crisis demands real power to either side( not Presidential veto's or filibustering) for the next 4 years, otherwise Partisan ship rules again and everyone will be miffed.

    October 31, 2008 at 4:22 am |
  7. ralph

    The one thing people should not do is take either of the candidates at their word. Seems to me I saw at a web site based on government documents with a little story about Republican party policy and Hoover giving tax cuts to the rich naming them in his own words Trickle Down. we are currently involved with the 4th failure of Trickle Down and as usual the only thing being redistributed is the debt they create. Republicans have no problem using government spending as the problem while if transparency is applied the Trickle Down redistribution of debt is right there for everyone to see. Seems socialistic to me.

    October 31, 2008 at 4:21 am |
  8. Michael

    Anderson What about Texas turning BLUE?????

    October 31, 2008 at 2:11 am |
  9. Jay Smith

    I wonder why Karl Rove has felt the need to write this article to us, poor gullible readers. Why would it be? Hmm, let's see, because he's afraid undecided voters may not bother to go to the polls and vote for his republican candidate? What a nerve to mention the 2000 elections and the American Political Science association's predictions that were "wrong" - are you sure they were wrong, Mr. Rove? When you lay your head on a soft pillow at night, do you really believe those predictions were wrong? If I recall correctly, the 2000 elections were puctuated with curious facts (all indicating fraud...) stuff you can only suspect, is that right? There were ill-working (tempered with) voting machines in poor neighborhoods, there was even Justice Scalia calling the Florida ballot recounting a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment... Thanks for the heads up on the statistics! But, no thanks.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:51 am |
  10. Debby

    Maybe it's just that I don't understand but I have never agreed with the electoral college. As a Democrat in a solid red state, I feel like I'm wasting my time and vote because all of my state's electoral votes will go to the Republican so why bother?

    October 31, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  11. Alex (Aliso Viejo, Ca)

    I don't think the polls will have an impact on American's votes. Americans have wisened up from previous cycles of election. If that is not the case, I firmly believe the economic downturn has made more impact and influence on how they will vote because they are actually living it everyday. Of course, there would be remote cases of racism, ageism, sexism and other forms of "isms" and "itis" in the political arena that would affect an individual's vote but i doubt if it would be the polls. We should have a study if voters do look at polls and how it affects our votes to make the claim scientificsally evidence-based, IMVHO.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  12. Mike Bielamowicz

    I don't follow the polls. I follow my heart. It hasn't let me down in 48 years. Polls are guesses. The winner is decided on November 4th or as I believe the 5th or 6th this election year.

    October 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  13. Kim

    86% to 15% of American polls review the media has been bias in election 08. They've worked on since the Clinton primary and citizens were picketing in the streets. God Bless the First Amendment and objectivity in political journalism with the media !

    October 30, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  14. Max, Dallas, TX

    No, no, no. I am not reading statistics and figures presented by Karl Rove. No.
    I am ESPECIALLY not reading something contrary to "everyone wants to vote for a winner."

    Is this how it is? Now that the guy winning isn't a fellow Rove ideologue, it's time to place nice? Find a corner to sit this one out in, man: the rational are taking this country back!

    October 30, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  15. Cindy

    I don't believe any polls no matter who they say is leading. The fact is 95% of them have an agenda. So they slant the result in the direction that they want it to read. Plus people lie to poll takers, always have and always will. Polls are just something for the media to have to yap about the whole time and to make them think that they know what is going to happen. Then when the result comes out differently we all see the truth that no one knows what will happen in that voting booth.


    October 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  16. carolyn

    I would like to know...Why is it that you see Senator Obama has all these surrogates helping him on his campaign like his wife Michelle, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Gore, and both Joe & Jill Biden. What is up with John McCain, it seems that you only see John McCain & Sarah Palin, Why haven't we seen surrogates helping the McCain-Palin campaign? Also, I would like to ask Senator McCain if he is not chosen as President, will he tell /help the next President capture Osama...since he has stated he knows how to go in and capture him.

    October 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  17. Adeola

    Hello :
    Thank you for the good job, I'm a fan, keep the good work.
    Anyway, I will like to inform you that 4millions of those unsure voters, are Jehovah Witness which their doctrine do not allow them to vote. Thanks

    October 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  18. Annie Kate

    I cast my ballot already and I did it on the issues and for who I thought should be the next President. In deciding who to vote for I looked at policies and what the candidates said they would do for the country – I don't pay much attention to polls; when you get down to it, polls are nothing but statistics and you can make statistics show just about anything based on the assumptions you make, the survey population, and how you phrase the question.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 30, 2008 at 8:18 pm |