If exit polls were votes

Then Obama would be headed for a huge victory. Actually, he wouldn’t, as President Kerry would be standing for re-election. So let’s wait and see.

Double digits

Everyone being polled could be lying. John McCain could pull Osama bin Laden’s head out of a bag and hold it up before the TV cameras the weekend before the election. Sarah Palin could be replaced on the Republican ticket by Warren Buffet, who — along with Colin Powell — will renounce his previous endorsement of Barack Obama. So no predictions from me.

But good Lord. John Zogby, whose methodology may understate support for Barack Obama, now has him leading McCain by 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent. And Pew has Obama up by 14 points among both registered voters (52 percent to 38 percent) and likely voters (53 percent to 39 percent).

Posts on polls are kind of useless, and I apologize. But the campaign has taken over most of my brain cells. I thought it was interesting that what seemed like a slight shift toward McCain a few days ago appears to have been stopped and is now being reversed.

I still think it’s going to be close.

Dial “Z” for poll numbers

I’m allergic to math, but even I can understand why Barack Obama’s eight-point lead in the Zogby tracking poll is bigger than it looks.

Zogby has consistently had John McCain doing better than in many other polls. As Nate Silver explains, it’s because Zogby weights party affiliation based on exit polls from the previous election.

So if the electorate is more Democratic today than it was in 2004 — and it is, by quite a bit — then Obama’s lead is actually understated by Zogby. That is, if the tracking poll is accurate in the first place, which is always a question worth asking.

Moving on up

Tracking polls are notoriously unreliable, but the Gallup trend is clear:

  • Aug. 23-25: McCain, 46 percent; Obama, 44 percent. Gallup’s take: “It’s official: Barack Obama has received no bounce in voter support out of his selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.”
  • Aug. 24-26: Obama, 45 percent; McCain, 44 percent. Gallup’s take: “No major change in structure of race, though Obama is doing slightly better.”
  • Aug. 25-27: Obama, 48 percent; McCain, 42 percent. Gallup’s take: “Democratic candidate gains in Monday through Wednesday interviewing.”

If these numbers are right, then it shows that all the media’s hyperventilating about the convention’s not being attack-oriented enough and the Clintons’ stealing the spotlight from Obama is bunk.

The latest figures don’t even capture voter reaction to Bill Clinton’s, John Kerry’s, and Joe Biden’s speeches, not to mention Obama’s cameo at the end of the night. And Gallup’s numbers won’t include Obama’s own speech until Saturday.

What does this mean? It looks like Obama is going to receive a normal convention bounce. And unless McCain and the Republicans utterly blow it next week, we’ll be back to a tied race when both conventions are over.

We’d all be better off watching C-SPAN.