So in case anyone was still in doubt about this, it turns that polling — real polling by independent organizations, not a campaign’s leaked internals — works. It actually works pretty darn well.
We noted after the primary that the polls correctly picked up a big late surge in support for Deval Patrick, and the ones taken within a few days of the primary were within a couple of points of correctly predicting the outcome.
Same thing happened in the general election. All the polls taken within the last two weeks or so were close, and the ones taken within a week of the election were almost exactly right. Seizing on the clever suggestion of stomv and alexwill, I’ve normalized this walk down memory lane of poll numbers by dividing each reported number by (1-%undecided/refused), so they don’t match exactly the numbers reported in the original polls, but they’re a better guess at what the polls would have shown if you forced the undecideds to choose.
ACTUAL (11/7): DP 56%, KH 35%, CM 7%, GR 2%.
Suffolk (11/2-5): DP 58%, KH 34%, CM 7%, GR 2%.
SHNS (11/1-2): DP 57%, KH 30%, CM 9%, GR 2%.
SUSA (10/30-11/1): DP 57%, KH 35%, CM 6%, GR 3%.
I could go on, but you get the idea. So the next time a campaign spokesguy or sympathizer tries to downplay polls showing his candidate way down by saying that the campaign’s internals show a much tighter race, smile, nod politely, and go about your business.