From CBS News today: Mitt Romney has closed the gap with President Obama among registered voters, a CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday found, putting the former Massachusetts governor in a dead heat with the president for the White House.
How important is this pronouncement? It’s at the top of both the Times’ and CBS’s websites. The media love polls like this that track likely voters and how they might vote were the election held today. But in the scheme of things? Hard to tell. In mid-April, they aren’t the greatest predictor of November election results.
According to “The Timeline of Presidential Election Campaigns: How Campaigns Do (And Do Not) Matter,” a forthcoming book by Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien, the accuracy of these national horse-race polls isn’t high right now.
The Huffington Post, which has seen the book, explains: In late October, polls will be highly predictive of the outcome, but now, with more than 200 days remaining until the election, the predictive accuracy of polling is less than 50/50.
Check back in October.
P.S. For the record, the Elon University Poll doesn’t do horse-race polling. It surveys opinions of North Carolina residents on issues, not on who they are going to vote for.
– John Robinson