When you scan the news over your morning coffee, you might well become confused over who is the current GOP frontrunner in the race for President. Depending on where you look, the top spot is occupied by Marco Rubio, or maybe Ted Cruz, or perhaps it is Jeb Bush. Trying to keep the running order straight can be about as confusing as the old Abbott and Costello “Who’s on first” routine.
Polls can be funny things and occasionally offer some insight into what is really happening, but not always. The outcomes vary due to the type of poll, who is taking it, how it was taken, how the questions were asked, and quite often what outcome was desired by the poll sponsor. The polls you might take on the internet, usually hosted by a news site or blog, are sometimes fun to do but they are mainly intended to gather email addresses from the website’s visitors (I keep a throwaway email address handy for just such occasions).
Even the more scientific polls run by actual polling organizations are all over the place right now, and that is mainly because the primary field is still taking shape. The new flavor of the week is likely to get an instant bounce in the numbers immediately following the official announcement, and if the candidate can avoid a major screw up coming out of the gate (Rand Paul comes to mind) he or she might even stay on top for a week or so, depending of course on whose poll you’re reading.
This early into the season, the one thing you can be sure of is that the lead will change about as often in the poles as it does in the night race in Bristol. Eventually however, those numbers will begin to settle down as the field solidifies. As each candidate becomes more established and voters get a clearer picture of who they are and where they stand on issues, the numbers will not only stabilize, they will become more meaningful as well