You’ve heard the old saying about three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
How about political polls?
A new batch of surveys out this morning paint a muddled picture of the presidential and U.S. Senate races in Virginia, a critical battleground state.
A Quinnipiac University-New York Times-CBS News poll has President Barack Obama holding a lead of 5 percentage points over Republican Mitt Romney, and Democrat Tim Kaine leading Republican George Allen by 7 points in the Senate race.
An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll has both races in a statistical dead heat.
And an internal poll for Allen’s campaign has the Republican ahead by 3 points.
It would be easier to explain the infield fly rule than to assess why these snapshots vary. But it’s probably safe to say that these surveys don’t change the fact that the presidential and Senate races are up for grabs here.
Here are the top-line numbers from the two independent polls:
Qunnipiac-NYT-CBS: Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 46 percent; Kaine leads Allen 51 percent to 44 percent. The results come from telephone interviews of 1,288 likely voters conducted between Oct. 4 and Tuesday. The survey has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.
NBC-WSJ-Marist: Romney leads Obama 48 percent to 47 percent; Kaine leads Allen 47 percent to 46 percent. These results come from a survey of 981 likely voters conducted between Sunday and Tuesday. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Allen’s campaign said this morning that an internal poll conducted this week has the Republican leading Kaine by a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent, within the survey’s margin of error. The firm McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 600 likely voters on Monday and Tuesday. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The McLaughlin survey has Allen leading Kaine by 6 points among independent voters. The Quinnipiac poll has independents favoring Kaine by 9 points. The McLaughlin survey also has Romney ahead of Obama by 7 points, 51 percent to 44 percent. That’s starkly different from independent surveys of the Virginia race.
As the politicos like to say, the only poll that really counts is the one on Election Day.
– Michael Sluss