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Gloom and Doom

3:30 PM, Jun 9, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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The above clip features George F. Will forecasting doom for John McCain in the fall. His point is that the current polls showing a close race are a mirage. Will elaborates that polls are only as reliable as the template they use to predict turnout. According to Will's reasoning, the polls showing a tight race understate the number of youths and African Americans that Obama will bring into the process.

Intuitively Will's argument makes sense. If only Obama had run in a bunch of elections that had been exhaustively polled so we could determine whether Will's theory actually works in the real world…

Wait a minute! Obama has run in I believe roughly 57 primaries or caucuses (one for every state) over the last five months. And you know what? If memory serves, he has a record of underperforming the polls on a pretty consistent basis.

Will's conceit is that only he has thought of the new voters that Obama is bringing into the process. Quite the contrary, all the pollsters have been desperately adjusting their special sauces to most accurately reflect the phenomenon. To date, their adjustments have skewed their numbers in Obama's favor. He has often done better in the polls than in the actual voting. Am I the only conservative who remembers Hillary's New Hampshire miracle?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not particularly bullish on Republican chances this year. As early as mid-2007, I pronounced the situation hopeless to a handful of college Republicans who desperately tried to divorce me from my pessimism. But that was before the Republicans nominated the one guy who can plausibly run on a somewhat anti-Republican platform. While such a campaign won't warm the cockles of conservative blogging hearts, it's the best they can hope for this cycle.

There's no reason to believe that the current polls are a mirage hiding what is in fact a significant Obama lead. In fact, given the polling history of 2008, it would make more sense to add a few points into McCain's column rather than Obama's.

Before breaking out the hats and horns, remember that there are lots of reasons for Republican to feel gloomy. Just for starters, a stumbling economy, the GOP's tattered reputation and an extremely unpopular incumbent president leap to mind. Oh yeah one, other thing - the other party's candidate is much better at this office-seeking stuff than our guy. In other words, there is ample reason to think that Obama will pull away.

But Will's analysis of this particular moment is incorrect. Right now, it's close. And if you want further cause for encouragement, there's this - it really shouldn't be.