Jonah Goldberg posts this conversation on Meet the Press yesterday on the meaning of the polls:
MR. RUSSERT: Lets turn to some of the states that weve been polling, starting with Arkansas. President Clinton went back there for John Kerry and that--we have the Mason-Dixon, Knight Ridder, MSNBC, 51-43. We also have Colo--theres Arkansas right there, 51-to-43.
Lets look at Colorado, we have MSNBC, Bush 50, Kerry 43; Zogby has it 50-45, all Bush. Lets go to Florida, Florida, Florida, Mason-Dixon says Bush is up 4; Zogby says Kerrys up 2; Quinnipiac says Bush is up 3. Lets look at Iowa. This is a state that Al Gore won and now hotly contested. MSNBC says Bush up 5; Zogby says Kerry up 1; Research 2000 says Bush up 1. In a new poll this morning from the Des Moines Register, the Iowa poll, Kerry up 3. Michigan, MSNBC Bush 45, Kerry 47; Zogby has Kerry up one. The Detroit News out today has Kerry up 2. Minnesota, with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Mason-Dixon has Bush up 1, Zogby has Kerry up 3.
We turn to Missouri, Bush up 5, according to MSNBC. Nevada, with the Las Vegas Review Journal, Bush up 6; Zogby says Bush up 4. New Hampshire, a state that Bush won in 2000, MSNBC has Kerry up 1; Research 2000 says Kerry up 3; University of New Hampshire says Kerry up 4, a potential gain of four electoral votes. New Mexico with the Santa Fe New Mexican, George Bush 49, Kerry 45; Zogby says Bush up 52-43, a net gain of five, because Gore won New Mexico.
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. MSNBC says Bush up 2; Zogby says Bush up 5; LA Times says Kerry up 6. And out on the West Coast, Oregon, another state that Al Gore won, John Kerry up 50-to-44. Pennsylvania, what a battleground. MSNBC says Kerry up 2, 48-46; Zogby says Kerry up 2; Quinnipiac says Bush up 2; LA Times, dead even, 48-48, a critical state for John Kerry.
West Virginia, went Republican in 2000, Bush ahead 51-to-43, according to MSNBC. Wisconsin, look at this: MS has John Kerry up 2; Zogby says John Kerry up 8; University of Wisconsin says George Bush up 3. On we go, gentlemen. The battleground, it is remarkable to see this, Bill.
MR. McINTURFF: Well, I think thats true but I think what youre seeing is, better to be George Bush this weekend than last weekend. You look at a lot of public polls in Ohio, in Florida, in multiple other states, and were seeing Bush creeping up, creeping up and stronger this weekend than last weekend. Thats something I think thats very important, because normally in an incumbent campaigns you can see them fade if there was really a move in the other direction, and were seeing instead Bush stabilizing in a number of states.
MR. RUSSERT: Peter Hart, the conventional wisdom is that if an incumbent is in that 50 percent, that the undecideds are going to break disproportionately for the challenger. Do you see any evidence of that or should we throw that out window because with the issue of terrorism hovering over this campaign, it may not be relevant?
MR. HART: Two things to keep in mind. Going over the last 30-plus years, we always note that the incumbent gets the same number as the final poll, so thats the thing to keep in mind. So if George Bush is at 48 or 49, probably going to end up pretty close to that, and so thats the importance of your poll. Second thing to note is massive turnout, massive does not work for an incumbent. It always works for a challenger and so those are two things to keep in mind at this stage of the game.
MR. RUSSERT: Charlie Cook?
MR. COOK: I think that if--I think first of all, Nader and the others are going to get about 2 percent, so I think the president needs to be around 49 to get over the finish line first. But when I look at the states, I have to say I think Florida and Iowa, I tip a little bit more towards President Bush, and the thing is, if that happens--and I have Wisconsin going for President Bush--if that happens, Kerry can win Ohio and Pennsylvania, which I think are really too close to call, and hes still one electoral vote short, so I...
MR. McINTURFF: Well, this is the story of the election in New Mexico, which is now a very--state where were getting Bush has trended, 100,000 volunteer calls made by Republicans, not paid calls, 100,000 volunteer calls. The Bush campaign has spent four years getting ready with the largest, most extensive effort ever in the Republican Party to mobilize real people. So have the Democrats. Thats why were talking about this turnout, but thats why some of our assumptions--were all in doubt. We wont know till Tuesday, and well all look really smart on Wednesday morning, and well look a lot smarter than we would today.