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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal

    Sunday, October 03, 2004

    Polls: Hey, buddy, can you spare a calendar for these guys? 

    The Columbus Dispatch's campaign coverage has been of such quality and quantity that a person who wants to follow this swing state campaign should consider subscribing to the newspaper's Web site. Just don't pay too much attention to the new Dispatch Poll, a most ill-timed entry into what are acknowledged to be only snapshots of what voters are thinking at the moment they are polled.

    What The Dispatch editors and pollsters were thinking when they mounted a survey of 2,859 randomly chosen registered Ohio voters between Sept. 22 and Oct. 1, Ohioblog has not a clue. From the outset of today's poll story, The Dispatch is forced to offer disclaimers such as this poll was ``conducted almost entirely before Thursday night's debate in Florida.'' The debate,it would seem, might make a difference in some responses. I mean, don't they have calendars and debate dates at The Dispatch?

    The Dispatch Poll shows President Bush with a 7-percentage-point lead, 51 to 44, which is similar to other recent polls taken in Ohio before the debate. This could have something to do with The Dispatch noting that a Newsweek poll, the first national poll taken after the debate, in which challenger John Kerry was the consensus winner, puts Kerry ahead, 49 percent to 46 percent in a head-to-head vote and 47-45 with independent Ralph Nader included, which he will not be in Ohio. Four weeks ago, as the Republicans were emerging from their national convention, the president held an 11-percentage-point lead, 52 to 41. Ohioblog's advice: Ignore this Dispatch Poll.

    Despite similarities, a that should not be ignored is one conducted by Mason-Dison Polling Research for The Repository in Canton. The Rep's poll suffers from the same flaw as that of The Dispatch, but because it deals only with Stark County and Ohioblog knows
    Stark County, it seems relatively accurate, giving President Bush a 47-43 lead, with 9 percent of Stark County voters still undecided. It would have been preferable to survey this bellwether county of our bellwether state after the debate, but the poll remains an accurate reflection of a race still too close to call in Stark.

    Polling has changed the way we look at elections. If you want to understand the reasons, read Bill Sloat's ``Taking the Pulse of the Nation,'' which appears in The Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine. ``Back in the 1980s,'' Sloat writes, ``nobody cared much about what was on Ohio's mind. The Ohio Poll - which the (University of Cincinnati) started 23 years ago - used to go to a dozen media outlets, almost all in Cincinnati. By mid-September this year, the poll's e-mail list had
    swollen to 650 addresses around the world. Even Japanese newspapers have signed up recently.'' Interest in Ohio is keen this political season. Why do you think Ohioblog exists?

    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 1:24 PM

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