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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Of all the polls out late tonight — and I do hope to have some sort of midnight update to the polling thread — the one that ought to give Democrats the most reassurance is the new poll out from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, which gives Barack Obama a 51-43 lead. What’s to like about this particular survey?

Firstly, all of the interviewing was conducted today (Sunday) and yesterday, so it’s about the freshest set of data that we have.

Secondly — and this is an underrated factor — the NBC/WSJ poll always behaves intuitively. It goes up when the other polls go up, and goes down when the other polls go down:

Date             Obama   McCain
11/1 - 11/2 51 43
10/17 - 10/20 52 42
10/4 - 10/5 49 43
9/12 - 9/22 48 46
9/6 - 9/7 47 46
8/15 - 8/18 45 42
7/19 - 7/21 47 41
6/6 - 6/9 47 41
4/25 - 4/28 46 43
3/24 - 3/25 44 42
3/7 - 3/10 47 44
1/20 - 1/22 42 42

Those numbers very closely match our “supertracker” trendline at any given time period, albeit with perhaps a 1-2 point Obama house effect. (The antithesis of this is something like the IBD/TIPP poll, which had its best numbers of the year for Obama (+11) in mid-May, in the midst of the Jeremiah Wright crisis.)

Thirdly, it’s hard to accuse the poll of partisanship, as it is co-directed by a Democratic pollster (Peter Hart) and a Republican one (Neil Newhouse), and is co-branded with a conservative-leaning newspaper and the most left-leaning of the three broadcast networks.

Finally, it includes cellphones (which may be part of the reason for the “house effect”). An updated version of the cellphone chart is below. (The polls that include cellphones are highlighted in orange, those that don’t are in gray). Between the NBC poll and the final Gallup numbers, the discrepancy has now grown even greater: Obama leads by an average of 10.0 points in the cellphone polls, versus 5.1 in the landline-only’s.

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