I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with my co-blogger Heather and four other John Edwards supporters, walking precincts in Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. We thoroughly covered six large precincts in a variety of types of neighborhoods and had a great time. We did not, however, come back full of hope for Edwards’ chances in Nevada.
Wherever we went, we found the same thing: Clinton and Obama supporters. Many, particularly Obama supporters, cited Edwards as their “second choice.” But the number of individuals we met who intended to caucus for Edwards were hardly worth talking about.
Last week I watched the polls and, though I don’t now remember the numbers, kept hearing that the race was nearly a three way tie or that Edwards was expected to get up to 20% of the vote. I kept shaking my head, wondering if our experience was some sort of aberration.
On Friday I ran into another of the women who traveled to Vegas with us and compared notes. Had I been imagining things? Was there more support in Vegas for Edwards than what I had seen? She didn’t think so. We agreed it was unlikely Edwards’ support among caucus goers would get to the double digits, in spite of what the polls had been saying.
Last night we learned the experience of my friends and me on the ground was accurate, and the polls were wrong.
I’m not qualified to discuss the issues of sample size and methodology, nor am I inclined to disbelieve in polling altogether. All I know is that in the case of Nevada, my “lyin’ eyes” on the ground were a whole hell of a lot more accurate than what the pollsters predicted.