I’ve made the warning before… and I’ll make it again: be wary of false precision. This time, in particular, I’m talking about political odds – yes, of the very sort I now display prominently on the right sidebar of this very site!
Horse Racing and Political Calculations
Some people, present company included, are dedicated political observers (junkies?) who follow every gaffe and minor poll movement with great interest. If you’re anything like me (and Cameron, not so much Bryan), you’ve been following the presidential race with interest for months now – even prior to the Republican primaries. Every moment of political drama is of interest – and if you observed my private conversations, you’d note they are also an opportunity for political humor and trash talking.
But I’m also somewhat grounded – I know that moves 200 days out (or a bit more than 90) don’t generally affect the race, unless there is a massive gaffe. Mitt Romney appearing on a Jet-Ski versus his contemporary Jon Kerry wind surfing? JFK on a boat versus Michael Dukakis in a tank? How about all of the shirtless pictures we get during the summer, including of current President Barack Obama in 2008? Yeah – the tank was the only one which was a major problem, while Kerry’s ‘gaffe’ was relatively minor. The fact is: no one really cares yet. That’s not to say “businesses are people, my friend” or “you didn’t build that” won’t factor into the election. No, it just means that they will only matter if the opposing campaigns start to stress them as we get closer (after a ton of poll testing and focus groups!)
When Do People Care?
The easiest way to see when people really start tuning into elections is through enthusiasm numbers. When you see an uptick in enthusiasm, you know people are now more engaged. Looking at a few years is a bonus, since you can try to pinpoint the events where people really start to care. One such poll is done by Gallup. Here’s what they’ve seen the last few Presidential election years:
So, there you see that August to September is the largest jump, but you’ll get a fair amount of interest in the July to August timeframe.
Now, this isn’t a lot of data, but it certainly passes the sniff test. There are two major events on the Republican side still – a Vice President pick and the convention, and the Democratic party has a convention. The most likely explanation is these are huge events – and any posturing pre-convention is strictly political. Truth is, those events kick off the final sprint, and with partisan enthusiasm most everyone will start to pay attention as well.
So, yea, keep watching the polls. Keep reading political odds-makers. Keep visiting here (of course! Plus we’re more than politics…). Just don’t trust anything until the whole country is plugged in, and paying attention. That won’t happen tomorrow – it’ll be after the conventions and VP picks.
Carry on with your life!
Are you paying close attention to the Presidential race? Do you know who Rob Portman is? Can you name the person who gave us each quote in paragraph 3?