Stephanie Slade on the Uselessness of National Primary Polling


BU Interactive News

In the spring and early summer of 2007, the frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations for president were—by healthy double-digit margins—New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Oops.

It's become a cliche to joke about these comically inaccurate results from exactly eight years ago, notes Stephanie Slade, but they are far from the exception. National survey research, even right before primary elections and caucuses, is almost useless as a barometer of who is most likely to win a party's nomination—except in those circumstances when one candidate is so far ahead that no polling is necessary to know it.