There is a constant onslaught of polling data every day from the 24 hours news cycle. It is overwhelming. And ridiculous.
Poll results are very different depending on the source. Above is an overview of how the electoral maps look now, showing the AllSides Bias Rating (ABR) by each.
Not surprisingly, the poll analysis most favorable to the President comes from the news source that has the strongest left bias rating, The Huffington Post. It gives Obama a victory (need 270 to win), though this victory is less than what it listed before the debates when it gave 332 electoral votes to Obama Ã¢â‚¬â€œ by far the most favorable results for the President I have been able to find.
Conversely, the results most favorable to Romney come from the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal (ABR: Right). The Wall Street Journal is also the most conservative (no pun intended) when it comes to awarding any state to any candidate, so the electoral vote tallies for both candidates are lower.
Polls are unreliable and biased. The bias isnt necessarily for one candidate over the other, but instead toward one methodology versus another. Although I do think there is a tendency to accept the methodology that supports your side the most, there are other differences as well that have nothing to do with your politics.
See “Are Presidential Polls Weighted Correctly? from a local news station in North Carolina and a good discussion on different poll methodologies between Joe Trippe (Democratic consultant) and Karl Rove (Republican consultant) on Fox News (AllSides Bias Rating: Right).
Should polls matter in deciding your vote? I say no, especially considering how wrong they often are and how often they are manipulated.
Just remember the Wisconsin recall election earlier this year. Polls had the Republican winning, so Democrats pushed polls that showed a close race (the same happens all the time vice versa). And then on Election Day, exit polls by unaffiliated groups working for the press showed a very tight contest, but the Republican actual won by a large 7 point margin. Those polls were VERY wrong.
So why the hysteria, why all the attention given to polls? Campaign professionals know that polls impact fund raising, volunteer activities, and even votes because people want to support a winner. And the press needs something to report. It was quiet before the first presidential debate as the candidates prepared, so polls were a good way to fill the news void.
My suggestion. Dont get caught up in all the polls, focus instead on the issues that matter to you, look at the different sides, and then decide for yourself. And encourage others to do the same.