That’s pretty much it. Carry on.
OK, maybe a little more. Couple of points:
1. Fundamentals. Trump is running a “campaign” only in the loosest sense of the term. No field, no money, no ground game, no ads, and he’s chasing around like an idiot claiming he’s going to compete in states he has no chance of winning. This will assuredly change, as Paul Manafort is not a moron. But Trump is months behind and tens of millions of dollars short of what he needs to organize a real campaign. It doesn’t happen overnight. These are enormous and arguably insurmountable problems.
2. There are so many polls this year that there are always going to be “OMG WTF DID YOU SEE THAT POLL?!?” moments. Restrain the urge to do this. The more polling, the more chance there will be for outlier results that are never replicated. Every poll must be viewed in the context of other recent polling. If one poll says Trump by 11 but there are 4-5 others that say Clinton by 5, the Trump poll has to be discounted unless and until someone else replicates it.
3. Know thy pollster. Polls by Rasmussen, a notorious hack of a polling outfit, has consistently had Trump leading for some time now. A new Rasmussen poll saying Trump is leading is not newsworthy. There are articles assessing the accuracy of many polling outfits all over the Internet; here’s one by Nate Silver from the immediate aftermath of the 2012 presidential election.
4. A “close” poll is not really close if it has been replicated many times. This is primarily for later in the race but it’s important. If one poll shows Clinton leading by 1.5 points in Florida, that’s close and within the margin of error. But if 20 polls all show Clinton leading by 1-2 points that is not really “close.” The confidence level on a large number of polls with similar results goes up quickly the higher the number of polls showing a similar result. This was the situation in 2012, when Obama led Romney by 1-3 points in a whole host of swing states, results that were consistent across multiple polls in each state over a period of weeks. The media persisted in saying the results were “within the margin of error,” but the high number of polls combined with the consistency of the outcomes meant that the confidence level approached 100%. Guess what? Obama won all the swing states.
5. Likely voter models four months out from an election are virtually useless. For many pollsters, a likely voter is one who says she’ll be voting. Well, who’s going to tell a pollster, “no, I’m not voting”? Not very many people. As we get closer, the models get more accurate and the results more meaningful.
6. As a result of all of the above, if Democratic leaders are freaking out about one set of dubious polls that are wildly different than other recent polling, they’re morons. Get a grip, folks. Act like you’ve been through a campaign before, would you please?
Now I’m done. Recommence normal breathing.