Last week New York Times polling guru Nate Silver tweeted, “The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense.” They do make a lot of sense if the objective is to help President Obama win a second term — or so Democrats think.
Major election surveys in the last few months have shown Mr. Obama either in the lead or tied for the win, despite an economic record of massive unemployment and astronomical debt. With that kind of baggage, the current Oval Office occupant ought to be trailing by at least 10 points.
The disconnect between data and reality has spurred increasing analysis of the polls and polling methods generally. Polls are used to drive the political debate and affect morale in both camps. Shaping the polls means shaping perceptions, which could mean determining who turns out to vote and who stays home. Pro-Obama polling may be having such an impact. Several recent surveys show that 60 percent of the electorate believes Mr. Obama will win the race in November. The Intrade prediction site places the odds of a second term at over 70 percent.