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Dem Pollster: "I've Never Been Less Worried"


First Posted: 11- 4-08 05:02 PM   |   Updated: 12- 5-08 05:12 AM

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Stan Greenberg, the pollster who aided Bill Clinton's run to the White House in 1992, said he was far more confident about Barack Obama's chances than he was for the last Democratic president 16 years ago.

"Everything that I saw has solidified," he said of recent polling. "Every poll that I saw of Obama I looked and said, 'I feel more and more confident.' And I'm beginning to look forward to his presidency. I've never had an election where I worried less about the outcome."

The statement is remarkable to the extent that any pollster's predictions can be. One of the famous anecdotes from the Clinton war room during the '92 election is that, while every other staffer bit their nails in anticipation of the results, Greenberg stood in the background with a look of cool confidence on his face. Looking back now, he says, he may have overstated just how good he was feeling that evening.

"I was confident to people around me, but when the poll numbers came in during the night I was very relieved," he said. "In '92, with Ross Perot in the race, the polls were a lot less stable."

For this race, Greenberg has been conducting national polls independent of Obama's candidacy for his firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. And the results he has documented, he says, are unprecedented in their consistency.

"I have never even seen a race this stable," he said. "Really not much has happened over the last couple of weeks. I think everything that McCain did really worsened his position, from Joe the Plumber to the socialism charge, to attacks on the progressive income tax."

There are a few micro-points that Greenberg made when discussing some of the numbers. The first is that the national polls could show Obama two or three points lower than where he will end up, because firms have not been able to fully take into account voters who operate solely off of cell phones.

"It is a critical component," he told the Huffington Post. "The final poll we did -- if you saw our final memo we had the headline, Obama with a seven-point lead, but if you read a paragraph in you will see nine percent. And one element of that is young voters, because even though we do a national poll it is still a landline thing, and that is much more likely to register people supportive of McCain."

The other point is to not trust the exit poll numbers, which skew the totals in favor of the Democratic candidate.

"The biggest problem with exit polls is... we do know that young voters are much more likely to do an exit survey and seniors are much less likely to do an exit poll," he said. "So exit polls are heavily waited to young people, which normal bias favors Democrats especially this year."

Instead of exits, Greenberg is looking at two unorthodox locations to give him a sneak peak at the national results -- both in his home state.

"In the senior centers in Connecticut they have polling places," he explained. "East Haven is a working class, Italian city, very white. And there are two senior housing projects. They have their own polling places, so I am having them call me with the results. And so if Obama can carry them, I know we are in a relatively strong place."

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