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Wednesday, June 25, 2008



I've railed against the media's focus on polls rather than issues, but here I want to discuss polls themselves. A widely reported Los Angeles Times poll shows Obama with a 12-point lead over McCain, or a 15-point lead if Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are included in the poll.

My question is simple: why is there an "if" in that last sentence? Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are running for President, and they will be a choice for voters in November (as, in some states, will other candidates, like the Party for Socialism and Liberation's Gloria La Riva and a Green Party candidate, quite likely Cynthia McKinney). So why on earth, when asking voters who they will vote for, would you not include them in the list? Even if you didn't have the motive of giving voters a not-so-subtle clue that Nader and Barr and the others are not "serious" candidates, wouldn't you want to include them just to make your poll more accurate?

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