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2016 Polling Comes Too Soon For This Political Reporter

Supporters may be "Ready for Hillary," but NPR political reporter Don Gonyea isn't.
Kevork Djansezian
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Supporters may be "Ready for Hillary," but NPR political reporter Don Gonyea isn't.

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?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.

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