We’re about to get inundated with a year and a half of public opinion polls about the 2012 presidential election. The Monkey Cage blog recently reported a study that contains the following important graph (I apologize – it’s a little blurry):
Basically, it’s saying that 300 days before the election (about 10 months), public opinion polls have almost ZERO predictive power on the outcome of the election. They start to get about as good as a coin flip (i.e. 50%) about eight months before the election (around March during the election year). And it’s not until around three months before the election (i.e. August) that the polls reflect the eventual winner more than 75% of the time.
Bottom line lesson: take all public opinion polls regarding the outcome of the 2012 presidential election with a grain of salt (or feel free to ignore entirely) until about August 2012.