How the Polls Were Off

Breaking News

Pre-primary tracking polls conducted by some of the nation’s most reputable polling organizations like Gallup and CNN, raised expectations in the Obama campaign, lowered them in the Clinton campaign and had the media reporting that Barack Obama was such a strong candidate after his victory in Iowa that he was virtually unstoppable. But last night Hillary Rodham Clinton proved wrong what had by then become the conventional wisdom and won the New Hampshire Democratic primary, shifting the klieg lights onto those pre-primary tracking polls.

In short, the pre-primary telephone polls were not wrong, they were slow. Events moved so quickly that the polls simply could not keep pace. The odd convergence of two historic candidates, a woman and an African American; a compressed calendar with only five days between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary; and a constant rat-a-tat of significant events, including Mr. Obama’s historic victory, Mrs. Clinton’s debate performance, Mrs. Clinton’s unusual moment of welling-up with tears, all conspired against pollsters.

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