It seems like a hundred polls are released every day now that the Iowa caucuses are less than a month away. Here's our guide to which ones matter and why.
Findings: Most adults -- 52 percent -- think President Obama doesn't deserve to be reelected. But a majority still think he's an alright guy -- 53 percent give him a positive personal rating -- and about 75 percent think he's likable.
Pollster: Associated Press-GfK
Methodology: Landline and cellphone interviews with 1,000 adults from December 8 through December 12.
Why it matters: This plays well into Mitt Romney's strategy of portraying Obama as not such a bad dude, it's just that he doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to the economy.
Caveat: "Adults" is not the same thing as "voters."
Findings: Ron Paul is the leading choice among South Dakota Republicans, with 22 percent to second-place Gingrich's 19 percent and Michele Bachmann's 18 percent.
Pollster: Nielson Brothers Polling
Methodology: Interviews with 298 registered Republicans from December 6 to December 9.
Why it matters: While this election has had many surprises, it seems highly unlikely that Paul will win many primaries in 2012, given that he repeatedly said in Thursday's debate that he's to the left of Obama on foreign policy. It shows how unreliable polling is for elections that are far away -- South Dakota Republicans won't vote till June. The New York Times' Nate Silver has launched his election forecasts, and points out that he looked at polls from the 1970s -- meaning with all the different candidates included, he looked at 17,000 results. "How often does a candidate’s actual vote total fall within the theoretical margin of error? The answer is, not very often," Silver says. "In theory, a candidate’s actual vote total should fall outside the margin of error only 5 percent of the time. In reality, the candidate’s vote total was outside the margin of error 65 percent of the time! " Even in the month before voting, polls still fell outside the margin of error about 40 percent of the time. So proceed with caution!
Caveat: Yeah but! It's so hard not to read the polls -- these are our tarot cards.
Findings: 63 percent of likely voters don't want to send troops back to Iraq.
Methodology: 1,000 likely voters surveyed on December 14 and December 15.
Why it matters: The war is over and the troops are coming home. While several Republican candidates have criticized Obama's decision to leave Iraq through out the primary campaign, the country does not appear to be with them, even according to this usually right-leaning pollster.
Caveat: Did we mention the war is over? The point is moot.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.