The first thing to remember is that not all polls are created equal, or, more accurately stated, their methodologies are vary widely. Some polls, for example, use recorded messages via auto-dial, which means they can't call cellphones. These polls have to make a lot more phone calls to get a decent sample size, since most people hang up as soon as they hear a recorded message.
Some polls are conducted online. Some polls use real live people making real live phone calls. So how do you know which polls to trust? You don't. That's why smart commenters and armchair pundits use a polling aggregator, a website that polls the polls, adjusts for variances of sample size and historic tendencies, and publishes an average of all the polls.
There are number of good sites to check out. My favorite is fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver's nerderiffic blog that offers more polls and poll analyses than you can shake a cellphone at. Silver was on the money with the electoral results in 2008 as an independent blogger. The New York Times then hired him to do the same schtick for its website. Highly recommended info on not just the results, but also the methodology of polling.
Another good aggregator site is RealClearPolitics. RCP is seen by many as leaning GOP, but that, IMO, is primarily because they call lots of states "tossups" that other aggregator sites put in one or the other candidates' column. Silver, for instance, only has seven states that he considers still to be tossups. RCP has 11 such states, including several deemed by most polls to be in Obama's column: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, to name three. However, in 2008, RCP came the closest of any polling organization to the actual national popular vote percentages for McCain and Obama, so I don't discount them.
One thing almost all aggregator sites will make obvious by their comparisons is that Gallup's national popular vote survey is an outlier — way out of line with almost every other poll's results. That said, putting any stock in any national popular vote poll is a sucker's bet. The only numbers that matter are the Electoral College totals. And at this point, the only states that matter are the tossups, however you define them. Most aggregators have Obama ahead in the majority of swing states, and one or two points behind in the national popular vote. Which is much better for him than the other way around.
If you look hard enough, you can eventually find an aggregator that will make you feel good about your candidate's chances. For example, when I'm feeling a little discouraged, I just go here. I call it my "happy place." It'll have to do until November 7th.
Early voting is already underway for the November 6th election, but the court ruling indicated that voters could begin using the library cards "immediately."
For the past few years, I've been staying at a place called Fat Possum Hollow, owned by a former Memphian, Maurice Lipsey. A few years back, Lipsey left the city life behind and purchased a couple hundred acres on the Little Red near Heber Springs. In the intervening years, he's built cabins (nine, at last count) that he leases in various short and long-term time-share arrangements that depend mostly on how much time you want to spend on the river each year.
The cabins are great, close to the water, but Lipsey added another touch: He built a BYOB "bar" in the ramshackle old barn on the property. It's filled with Memphis Tiger memorabilia, old Press-Scimitar and CA clippings, old Memphis photos, etc. If there's a Memphis game on television, it'll be playing on the TV at Maurice's place.
In the evenings, the place is filled with fly-fishermen and their families. Kids and teens play pool and ping-pong or run around outside while the adults crowd the bar. And everyone, it seems, is from Memphis. As one woman told me: "This is the new Destin."
To me, that's not a compliment, but I knew what she meant: FPH is a Memphis-centric vacation spot. I'm sure Maurice wouldn't mind if I mentioned his phone number, so if you're interested in checking out the place, call him: 501-362-7738. Here are a few pics I shot last weekend:
In an email released by the mayor's office, Cashiola wrote: "Serving as the city's media relations contact has been a joy and a privilege, and it is with mixed emotions that my time in city government has come to an end."
Cashiola will serve as corporate communications manager at Sullivan. We at the Flyer wish her continued success.
This morning, I arrived early and headed back to the breakroom with an empty mug, planning to make a little coffee. Imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw this little fellow (lady?) slithering along the baseboard.
After a prolonged struggle, I was able to subdue the creature and get him into my mug. I plan to release him back into the wilds of our office later today, because if lizards run free, why can't we?
UPDATE: Several co-workers who saw "the" lizard earlier have told me that the beast they saw was much larger, perhaps 5 inches in length, leading me to believe that there is a reproducing family of geckos living among us.
Fourth District Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais, who is also a physician, has had some embarrassing revelations come to light concerning his marriage and one of his former mistresses.
The most damning details come from the transcript of a phone conversation DesJarlais had with a mistress, a former patient, in which he urged her to have an abortion. Needless to say, DesJarlais, who was elected to Congress in 2010 as a Tea Party Republican, is stridently 'pro-life.'
Details — and lots of them — can be found at the link above.
Caption Contest! Keep 'em clean and funny. Winner (decided by me) gets a $40 gift certificate to a local eatery.
I think this is an issue — Benghazi-gate is the right term for this. This is very, very serious, probably more serious than Watergate.
That's correct. Blackburn contends that the U.S. UN ambassador's initial misreading of the Libya embassy attack as part of the Arab world's riots in response to an anti-Muslim film is on a par with the Watergate scandal.
You remember the Watergate scandal, right? It led to the impeachment and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, and involved Nixon administration officials approving a criminal break-in and wire-tapping at Democratic party headquarters.
The parallels are so obvious. On one hand, we have an initial misinterpretation of events by an administration official, one that has subsequently been corrected and acknowledged. On the hand, we have a U.S. president condoning a criminal act of breaking and entering by his own operatives, then authorizing an official cover-up.
Why, they're almost mirror images of each other. History repeating itself.
Just one question: What planet do these people inhabit?