There is little reason to care about what the polls say right now about who's leading in the Republican presidential nomination. But the media obviously think otherwise, hence this headline in the Washington Post yesterday (8/25/11):
Romney Loses GOP Front-Runner Status
The "news" is that Rick Perry is leading in a new Gallup Poll. But read a little further:
So this means Paul's in the "top tier" now, right?
This is a good time to issue a quick reminder about the hazards of paying too much attention to early polling:
In 2003, early polling of the following year's Democratic nominees (e.g., CBS News poll, 12/14-12/16/03) showed eventual nominee John Kerry in the middle of the pack, trailing Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Richard Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. An August 2003 USA Today/Gallup poll (8/25-8/26/03) showed front-runner Lieberman with a 10-point lead over Gephardt. As the dynamics of the nomination race shifted, so did the polls–but not in a way that would suggest the polling would predict the winner. By January 2004, Howard Dean was leading the pack, followed closely by Wesley Clark (1/2-5/04).
On the Republican side:
in the 2000 race, Bush's only serious competition came from Sen. John McCain, who was trailing far behind in the early polls–behind Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle and Steve Forbes (e.g., NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 1/99).