Over the last week or so the polling news has been disappointing, with Obama taking a lead over Romney in the Rasmussen polls, polls in which Romney has consistently--until now--done very well. No doubt we should all feel sobered. At the same time, we should take this news with a couple of grains of salt.
The first, a conversation I had yesterday with the esteemed political scientist Morris Fiorina, whose office at the Hoover Institution lies a floor below mine. Over the last couple of weeks, I've taken to sticking my head in Mo's door, asking the very same question every time. Yesterday, he gave me the very same answer.
ME: Do the polls mean anything yet, Mo?
The second grain of salt, the nearby chart. As you'll see, in 1980 Reagan trailed Carter well into the summer, took a lead after the GOP convention, and then fell behind Carter all over again.
Not until the very last week of the campaign did the polls reflect the support for Reagan that would give him victory with fifty-one percent of the vote.
One of the country's leading political scientists insists the polls won't matter until after Labor Day. And if 1980 is anything to go by, even Labor Day may be too early.