Friday, October 10, 2008

Addendum to Below

On my earlier post today I talked (at length, sorry) about perception of opinion and why it matters. In reporting Obama's lead over McCain, a new Fox poll tells us:
A 61 percent majority of voters believes Obama is going to win the election — more than three times as many as believe McCain will (18 percent). A month ago it was evenly divided: 41 percent Obama and 40 percent McCain (Sept. 8-9). This summer, voters were more likely to say Obama would win: 51 percent Obama and 27 percent McCain (July 22-23).

I wish I could remember where I once read that perception of who is going to win is a better predictor of an election outcome than merely seeing what a poll tells you on who people prefer. Let me say that another way. Asking who you are for ends with Obama getting 45 percent of the vote to McCain's 39 percent (according to this very poll). But asking who is going to win gets Obama with 61 percent.

I vaguely recall reading once, as a grad student perhaps, that asking who you think is going to win is a better predictor than just counting up those for or against the candidates. This question, neat as it is, suggests a sense of inevitability among even McCain supporters. That gets right at the power of perception.

Some other day I'll blog about a related matter -- wishful thinking. Again, this is about perception and I've done some work in the area, but basically we tend to wishfully think and see our own preferred candidate as likely to win. Fun stuff, as of course all mass comm research is -- if you're into the whole research thing.

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