A couple of days ago, I wrote about the meaninglessness of polls too far ahead of an election. A reader wrote in with a marvelous example. He starts with a quote from the New York Times of June 23, 1992:
In April, for example, Mr. Clinton was viewed favorably by 26 percent and unfavorably by 40 percent. The latest poll showed Mr. Clinton viewed favorably by 16 percent, with 40 percent holding unfavorable views.
And then the e-mailer asks: “Can you imagine what Democrats must have been saying back in June of 1992? Their nominee was at 16-40 favorable, a net -24.”
I can indeed imagine what they must have been saying, because I was, at the time, surrounded by it! I was working in the U.S. Senate, and you could barely see the Democrats, so enshrouded were they in their thought-miasma of “please God, let’s have a brokered convention to save the party from imminent destruction.” They were, it turns out in hindsight, wishing to destroy the candidacy of the only Democrat who could win them a presidential election in the three decades between 1976 and 2008.