080707Elections1_hj9dopa%201.PNG



Barack Obama's lead in the polls is good news for his prospects, right? Wrong, says Gallup, who points out that the July polling leader lost in six of the last nine competitive US presidential elections. It seems to me that Gallup is generating a spurious level of counterintuitiveness through use of the "competitive" qualifier. If you look at the most recent fifteen presidential elections, the July polling leader has won big six times, won narrowly three times, and lost narrowly six times. That gives you the totally intuitive result that leading in July is better news that losing in July, but that it doesn't guarantee anything.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.