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Washington Matters

Don't Be Fooled by the Polls

Don't draw any big conclusions from the new public opinion polls. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Barack Obama taking a 47-41 point lead over John McCain, in part because Americans -- by a 54% to 42% margin -- say they think it's more important to elect a president committed to change than one with a lot of experience. 




All this will cheer the Obama camp and depress the McCain camp, but both should keep a check on their emotions. The Obama bounce -- following the media frenzy over his historic achievement in becoming the first African-American to win a major party nomination -- was a foregone conclusion and one that's not likely to last.


This will be a close and hard-fought campaign, and much will depend on who can control the agenda. Obama will try to keep it on economics, while McCain will try to make it a campaign about experience and national security. And all the while, the fringe groups will keep raising all sorts of side issues -- some legitimate and some not. Some will deal with McCain's age, the latest being that he can't use a computer. Others will keep up a steady drumbeat on the charge that Obama is a closet Muslim.


From now until November, polls are likely to go up and down, reflecting -- as polls always do -- a mere snapshot in time. Our best advice is keep a steady grip and settle in for a long haul.