Opinion
11:25 am
Sun November 17, 2013

2016 Polling Comes Too Soon For This Political Reporter

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 5:43 pm

The email landed in my inbox at 7:01 Tuesday morning.

The subject line read, "NBC News Poll: Christie Trails Clinton In Hypothetical 2016 Match-Up, Faces Divided GOP."

My reaction when I got this breaking news with my first cup of coffee? A big, nonverbal, heavy sigh.

The headline correctly states that this is a "hypothetical" matchup. Oh, and if you are fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — not to worry. A different poll came out this week as well. That one has him leading Hillary Clinton 43-42. Within the margin of error, of course.

But neither is a candidate yet. The first contest — if nothing changes — will be the Iowa caucuses, likely in January. Not January of next year or the year after, but the year after that.

And the 2016 general election is more than 1,000 days away.

As for the accuracy of polls taken at such a very early stage? Just ask President Rudy Giuliani. In 2007 he still had high poll numbers due to his time as the take-charge mayor of New York on 9/11. Except he faded quickly once the GOP primaries got underway.

Or you might ask President Colin Powell, or President Mario Cuomo, both of whom decided in the end not to run. Or go ask President Gary Hart, or President Edmund Muskie, or President — well, I could go on.

Now, don't get me wrong. I cover politics full time. I'm fascinated by politics. I love elections, talking to voters, examining strategies. At some point, such polls will be meaningful, and we will study them closely. But I'm a very long way from walking into a diner or a community center in Iowa or New Hampshire and asking, "Who do you like for president, Christie or Clinton?" Or Biden, or Cruz, or Warren, or Santorum, or Paul, or Ryan, or Rubio, or — well, you get the picture.

I'm happy to take a breather for a while. I mean, there's no shortage of other issues to talk about, right?

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Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

The email landed in my inbox at 7:01 Tuesday morning this week. The subject line read: NBC News Poll: Christie Trails Clinton In Hypothetical 2016 Match-Up. My reaction when I got this breaking news with my first cup of coffee? A big non-verbal heavy sigh. The headline correctly states that this is a, quote, "hypothetical" match up. Oh, and if you are fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, not to worry. A different poll came out this week as well. That one has him leading Hillary Clinton 43-42, within the margin of error, of course.

But neither is a candidate yet. The first contest if, if nothing changes, will be the Iowa caucuses, likely in January, not of next year or the year after but the year after that. And the 2016 general election is more than 1,000 days away. As for the accuracy of polls taken at such a very early stage. Just ask President Rudy Giuliani. In 2007, he still had high poll numbers due to his time as a take-charge mayor of New York on 9/11. Except he faded quickly once the GOP primaries got underway. Or you might ask President Colin Powell or President Mario Cuomo or President Gary Hart or President Edmund Muskie or - well, I could go on.

Now, don't get me wrong. I cover politics full time. I'm fascinated by politics. I love elections. I love talking to voters, examining strategies, and at some point such polls will be meaningful and we will study them closely. But I'm a very long way from walking into a diner or a community center in Iowa or New Hampshire and asking who do you like for president - Christie or Clinton? Or Biden or Cruz or Warren or Santorum or Paul or Ryan or Rubio or - well, you get the picture. I'm happy to take a breather for a while. I mean, there's no shortage of other issues to talk about, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Baby, stay that way. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop, it'll soon be here. It'll be better than before. Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone. Why not think about times to come...

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