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POLITICS: Real survey companies know that it’s a tie

So after the debate on Thursday, which didn’t feature health care, it looks like the Presidential election is back in a tie. Newsweek has Princeton Survey Research’s post-debate poll with Kerry leaving 47-45%, with a 4% margin of error. When Nader is taken out Kerry’s lead increases slightly. This is similar to the Harris poll that was released a couple of weeks back.

Now Bush may be feeling like the SF Giants on Saturday (who lost the NL West by giving up 7 runs in the bottom of the 9th) but in truth he was never as likely to win in a cruise as some pollsters have suggested. Worst offender here was Gallup which does the CNN/USA Today poll and has been consistently showing the Republicans doing better than most other pollsters. Gallup frankly (speaking as an ex-pollster myself) in the past few years has done its business some harm by not moving into Internet polling and now is engendering severe doubts about its political polling methodology (Having a former CEO who is an evangelical Christian when 8 out 10 evangelicals are on Bush’s side doesn’t exactly help their PR whether or not it has any influence over their methodology. By the way, Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, has never taken US citizenship after 30 years of being here because he’s never wanted the possibility of his voting to impact his polling in any way). Speaking as someone who has commissioned polling from both Harris (and later worked there) and Princeton, and who also has looked at a lot of other polling organizations, I know that I’d tend to be more comfortable with them (and with Field in California) than most others. All Gallup really has left is the most famous name.

But what this all means is that the election is still as close as its been all along. So that means that turnout is the key and there are signs that the Democrats have done better in registering new voters. That of course doesn’t mean that they’ll get them to vote. However, anyone in health care assuming a straight Republican win should do some quick scenario planning about what happens if Kerry gets in. Particularly as the MMA gives the FDA (i.e. the Administration) the right to allow the importation of pharmaceuticals with no further Congressional action. When that was passed last year it looked fairly safe for the pharma business for some time. Right now they need to be thinking about plan B. (Of course I don’t think reimportation would be too dramatic and I have some ideas for Plan B that don’t lead immediately to Marxism).

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