Claim: Early Polling Is Meaningful and Useful

Which usually just means: "These polls correctly predict that my team will win!"

What if the early polls show your team behind? "Honestly, I'm not a believer in polls!"
That's how you SPIN public discussion of a poll, I'd agree. But I'd bet cash money that, over in campaign HQ and possibly not in front of the candidate*, the discussion is more like

"This poll shows we're ahead, which is fine, but look at how we're getting hammered with this issue in the crosstabs, we might want to tweak our messaging on that, get the word out better. And look at how we're doing about twice as well among women than among men, should we focus our get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts more on women? Chris, you run down to the press folks and say these polls are correct as they say we will win."


"OK, in the head to head we're trailing in this poll, not ideal, but the good news is we're up a few points among male voters after that big ad buy during the football games last week, let's buy another round of that. I'm not seeing any movement among minority voters after that targeted buy on ethnic cable channels and minority owned radio stations, let's maybe move that money over to GOTV efforts for football fans! Oh and, Chris, run down to the press pool and explain that we don't care too much about the polling at this stage, the only poll we care about is in November, you know the drill."

*In my experience, many candidates don't need to know any too much about the tactical decisions of the campaign, and it is better for them to concentrate on the campaigning that they can and ought to do -- the speech making, the debating, the enunciation of policy stands while looking you straight in the eye and being or seeming sincere, answering questions other than the one that was asked, etc... when your candidate wants to get too deep into micromanaging the campaign, it's a Bad Thing. Show 'em the good news in the polling if you have it, then send 'em out confident to stay on the campaign trail doing their campaign job.
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