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Post Poll: Nearly Useless

10:28 AM, Mar 6, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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The Washington Post gets some attention this morning for a poll that shows John McCain losing to Barack Obama by 12 points and Hillary Clinton by 6. The findings are a bit of a surprise, since recent polls have shown McCain trailing Obama by just 5 or so, and roughly even with Clinton.

Why the discrepancy? It helps to look at the Post's raw data. Go to the section on party identification, and you find this:

Do you lean more towards the:
Democratic Party: 46
Republican Party: 26
Neither: 22

As a point of reference, compare this to the exit polls for the 2006 election -- the best Democratic performance in 32 years:

VOTE BY PARTY ID
Democrat: 38
Republican: 36
Independent: 26

So the Post's findings aren't entirely useless. They give you a good snapshot of what the election looks like today, as long as it turns out to be a dramatically better year for the Democrats than 2006 and 1974. If you're one of those skeptics -- one who recognizes that elections like that never happen twice in a row -- then you'll want to take it with a grain of salt.