Dem 51
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GOP 49
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We're In a Polling Desert Right Now

We are too far from Election Day 2024 for polls to mean very much. And polls do cost money (or manpower, in the case of university polling centers). If there's some event that might produce something interesting, like the presidential candidates' debate, then maybe. Otherwise, the real pollsters are conserving their resources right now.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so the lack of legitimate polls creates an... opportunity, of sorts. Actually, two opportunities. The first is that there's a chance for mediocre (often partisan) pollsters like Rasmussen or Trafalgar to lay claim to a little extra attention. The second, which is somewhat related, is that political campaigns can try to shape the narrative by releasing polls that ostensibly have "good news" for that campaign.

You could predict the obvious culprits here without us telling you. The presidential race is the only one worth this kind of attention over a year out, only the Republican nomination is being contested in any sort of meaningful way, and the two leading candidates for that nomination are both very Machiavellian. So, it is not at all surprising that Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) are currently playing a game of dueling polls. The former, for example, was behind a poll showing DeSantis was making no progress in New Hampshire or Iowa. The latter was behind a poll showing that DeSantis had gained 7 points in Iowa since the debates. There are at least a half-dozen other polls in the last week or so that effectively came from one camp or the other (Vivek Ramaswamy's been playing the game, too).

The most aggressive practitioner of this technique is, as you might guess, DeSantis. He is the more traditional politician, and he's also more desperate to try to gain some traction. The polls do not come from the DeSantis campaign, per se, they are conducted by DeSantis' preferred polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, and are released by a DeSantis-friendly PAC, Citizen Awareness Project. It all sounds very fair and unbiased, until you start to trace things back to their source.

This helps to explain why we don't bother to track the polls this early in the cycle. First, as every reader knows, the presidential result (and thus our model) is based on the Electoral College. Most polls are national preference polls right now, and those that aren't are usually early primary/caucus states. If we started tracking polls right now, the map would largely tell you that the 2024 results are going to be the same as the 2020 results, since all we would have for most states would be the 2020 results.

Second, we have various steps we take to make certain that a particular pollster is acceptable for inclusion in our database. What it amounts to is that we keep partisan pollsters, and those with poor track records, out. Because pollsters come and because pollsters go, and given that partisan campaigns and PACs tend to hide behind names like "Citizen Awareness Project," it's a little hard right now to separate "limited track record, but probably OK" from "limited track record because they are a front for a campaign." So, no map updates for us until well into next year, certainly not until the nominees are known for sure. (Z)

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