Sen. John McCain could be much closer in the national popular vote to Sen. Barack Obama than previously recognized, and may even have a slight lead according to a major new poll conducted by a bipartisan polling group.
The George Washington University Battleground Poll released Tuesday shows McCain closing to within just 2 percent of Sen. Barack Obama in the national vote – 50 percent to 48 percent -- well within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error.
That would mean the contest is so close that it is statistically impossible to determine, based on the poll, whether McCain or Obama is ahead.
The organizations conducting the poll, the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, have strong bipartisan credentials. Tarrance CEO Ed Goeas is a Republican strategist, and Celinda Lake of Lake Research is a Democrat.
Each organization contributes to the survey design, but they interpret the data independently.
The Tarrance Group predicts that the data will lead to an Obama win over McCain in the national popular vote by a margin of 50.2 to 48.3. The Lake Research organization, using the same data, calls it 51.5 for Obama, 46.5 for McCain.
The George Washington University Battleground Poll results differ sharply from other surveys, which show Obama ahead by anywhere from 5 to 11 percentage points nationally.
“We don’t call people on the weekends, which tend to overstate the Democratic vote, causing you to have more pronounced swings in your data,” Tarrance vice-president Brian Nienaber tells Newsmax.
Nienaber adds that Tarrance’s projections anticipate that voters will continue to follow historical patterns in turnout, with minor adjustments.
“We’ve got to go with what has worked for us in the past, and this has certainly worked for us in the past,” he says.
The Tarrance predictions in 1992, 1996, and 2004 were among the most accurate in the country. In 2004, Nienaber says, the organization underestimated the last-minute impact of a news report that President Bush had been arrested for DUI in Maine in 1976, which distorted its results.
Some 800 voters were interviewed Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 for the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll.
The Tarrance Web site adds, “Battleground polls are conducted, not for the benefit of any paying client, but to give the public a look at Americans' opinions and an inside peek at strategic recommendations for both political parties.”
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