Discussion: NYT On Polls Showing Southern Senate Dems Ahead: Critics Are 'Misguided'

Discussion for article #221907

Past elections may become assessments of current feelings, not reports of actual past votes. One spectacular change in vote reporting took place between 1960 and 1964. Right after the close election of 1960, the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan found an evenly divided electorate, much like the actual nationwide results. Two years later, however, 56% of voters said they had voted for John F. Kennedy and just 43% said they voted for Richard Nixon. In 1964, after Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, his narrow victory of 1960 had turned into a 28-point landslide in voters’ memories: 64% of those interviewed said they had voted for Kennedy, while only 36% admitted voting for Nixon.

Voters have had a roller coaster ride with their memories when it comes to the current president, too! Immediately after the 2000 election, voters reported their 2000 vote accurately in a CBS News Poll. It was a close election and a close poll result. But as George W. Bush’s approval rating soared to 90% following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush also gained votes. Al Gore’s narrow victory in the national tabulated vote turned into an apparent 16-point Bush landslide in the January 2002 CBS News Poll. In a 2007 CBS News Poll as Bush’s popularity began to wan as a the Iraq invasion began to descended into a protracted and unpopular occupation, self-reports of the 2004 vote gave George W. Bush a 6-point lead just over John Kerry, only slightly inflated from the actual outcome.