By David McLennan, Guest Contributor
Two recent polls about the US Senate race in North Carolina raised the eyebrows of many political observers in the state and around the nation. The June East Carolina University Poll had Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham tied with Republican incumbent Thom Tillis (41-41). Public Policy Polling (PPP) released their June poll results that had Cunningham up eight points over Tillis (47-39).
This race, expected to be very competitive by national forecasting organizations such as the Cook Political Report, appears to be a toss-up, according to the ECU Poll, but less so in the PPP Poll.
The discrepancy in these results is not unique to these two polling organizations. Results about North Carolinians preference for president in April showed equally dissimilar results from the Civitas Poll and my own Meredith Poll.
These differing results do not mean there is anything wrong with the methodologies used by the polling organizations. It reflects a more fundamental fact about public opinion that early polls—those conducted months before Election Day—are going to have results that differ, often wildly. The reality is that the surveys administered closer to Election Day are going to be more consistent with each other and show more stability in public opinion.