E: 1.38, S: -0.51
Here are selected pertinent notes about polls currently being cited:
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Early 2008 polls unpredictable now, but provide some important clues
Will Lester / Associated Press
Gallup polling over the past three decades shows Republican front-runners usually win their party's nomination, but Democrats do not. Some elections:
February 1971: Edmund Muskie, 26 percent; Edward Kennedy, 25; Hubert Humphrey, 21; John Lindsay and George McGovern, each at 5.
McGovern won the nomination and lost the general election to President Nixon.
February 1975: George Wallace, 22 percent; Humphrey, 16; Henry Jackson, 13; McGovern, 10; Muskie, 9. Jimmy Carter was at 1 percent with 10 candidates in front of him. Carter won the general election, defeating President Ford.
February 1979: Kennedy, 60 percent; Carter, 28.
Carter lost the general election to Reagan.
January 1987: Hart, 30 percent; Lee Iacocca, 14; Jesse Jackson, 13. Michael Dukakis was at 1 percent with seven people in front of him.
Dukakis won the nomination and lost the general election to Vice President George H.W. Bush.
February 1991: Mario Cuomo, 18 percent; Jackson, 12; McGovern, 9; Richard Gephardt, 8. Bill Clinton was at 2 percent with 10 people in front of him.
Clinton won the nomination and beat Bush in the general election.
January 2003: Joe Lieberman, 17 percent; John Kerry, 16; John Edwards and Gephardt, each at 13.
Kerry won the nomination and lost to Bush in the general election.
Mid-February 2007: Hillary Rodham Clinton, 41 percent; Barack Obama, 21; Gore, 14; Edwards, 13. Other candidates' support was less than 5 percent.
Mid-February 2007: Rudy Giuliani, 40 percent; McCain, 24; Gingrich, 9; Mitt Romney, 5. Other candidates' support was less than 5 percent.
-- Associated Press
Note that Edmund Muskie in 1972, George Wallace in 1976, Ted Kennedy in 1980, Gary Hart in 1988, Mario Cuomo in 1992 and Joe Lieberman in 2004 were early front-runners among Democrats. None won the nomination.
Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, is a favorite in early polls. But many people feel his personal history and moderate positions on social issues may cost him support among some conservatives.
Arizona Sen. John McCain is running even or second to Giuliani, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is running a distant third.
Among Democrats, New York Sen. Clinton looks strong at this point, with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards giving her the stiffest competition.
Despite their occasional difficulties in picking eventual winners, early polls can provide important clues about the campaign.
Among the more interesting findings from recent national polls:
--Democrats are more likely than Republicans to be paying close attention to the presidential race, by 31 percent to 20 percent, according to a poll taken in February by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
--Romney may find his Mormon faith an obstacle with many voters. One-quarter of people questioned say they would not vote for a Mormon candidate, compared with 8 percent who say they would not vote for a woman and 3 percent for a black candidate, according to a Newsweek poll in December.
--Clinton is viewed unfavorably by at least 40 percent of people, many of them Republicans who will be difficult for her to win over, various polls have found.
--Four in 10 Democratic voters say they have not heard enough about Obama to have an opinion yet. Only 3 percent say that about Clinton, according to a CBS News poll in mid-January.
--Most Republicans and those who lean Republican are unaware of Giuliani's support for civil unions for same-sex couples and abortion rights, according to a Gallup poll in mid-January.
Public support for Clinton and McCain is probably based on a fairly firm base of knowledge about them, said public opinion analyst Charles Franklin. Knowledge of Giuliani is probably based mostly on his response as New York's mayor to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Most poll analysts agree that the polls six months from now will be far more meaningful.
"For the most part, the political polls don't mean much now," said Scott Keeter, of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "But political junkies have an endless appetite for them. People are looking for some kind of evidence of how things are going to turn out."