Yet in the end, the president got his bump, and it came a day or so after the Friday economic news came, all of it highly unfavorable to him: job creation, down from July; Americans seeking jobs, down from July, the percentage of Americans working or seeking work, down to a 30-year low. As for foreign policy, while Obama was wowing the gullible last week with his listless poetry, the Chinese and the Russians were snubbing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her Syrian initiative.
Do not let these polls fool you. In 1980, similar polls showed Jimmy Carter leading the Old Cowboy almost to the very end. Carter was ahead of Governor Ronald Reagan by 4 points in late September and 8 points in October, and the Gallup polls had him ahead of Reagan by 6 points in last days of the election. Reagan won by 9 points, sweeping 44 states. In 1988, Governor Dukakis at one point led Vice President George H. W. Bush by 17 points. He lost by almost 8 points. How to explain it, I cannot say with certainty. Some evidence suggests that the pollsters poll a higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans. Moreover, a recent poll from the Pew Research Center is suggestive. The electorate is growing impatient with pollsters calling them for their views on everything from deodorants to odors. According to Pew, "the response rate of a typical telephone [political] survey was 36 percent in 1997 and is just 9 percent today." My suspicion is that political polling has not been reliable for years. Increasingly, those who sit down with the pollster are politically committed respondents.
So here is yet more evidence of the Taranto Principle. Just as the media give Democrats the impression they are in the majority, so do the great polling organizations. So keep it up, Mr. President: no to God, no to Jerusalem, and whatever message you want to send out about birth control. Your foreign policy is a masterpiece, especially in the Arab world. Your economy, well, it is still Bush's economy.