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What September Polls Say About Election’s Outcome

By Albert R. Hunt

Over the last 40 years, the shape of most presidential races was evident in the September polls that followed the convention.

A few anomalies, as measured by the Gallup poll: Four years ago, when Senator John McCain of Arizona got a bump that even most Republicans knew wouldn't last. And in 2000, when the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore, again with a convention bump, had a lead (actually, Gore ended up winning the popular vote that year).

The real outlier was 1980, when Ronald Reagan trailed President Jimmy Carter by seven points in early September and ended up winning by almost 10 points; campaigns can matter.

Here are Gallup's horse-race surveys in September of the last 10 presidential-election years compared with the final results.

                                              Early Sept. poll              Final

2008

Barack Obama                        46                                52.9

John McCain                           48                                45.7

2004

John Kerry                              47                                48.3

George W. Bush                     49                                 50.7

2000

Al Gore                                      47                                 48.4

George W. Bush                      41                                 47.9

1996

Bill Clinton                               52                                 49.2

Bob Dole                                   29                                  40.7

Ross Perot                                 7                                      8.4

1992

George H.W. Bush                 41                                   37.5

Bill Clinton                               50                                   43

Perot                                          n/a                                   18.9

1988

George H.W. Bush                 45                                     53.37

Michael Dukakis                    43                                     45.65

1984

Ronald Reagan                       57                                     58.8

Walter Mondale                     39                                     40.6

1980

Jimmy Carter                          41                                    41

Ronald Reagan                        35                                     50.7

John Anderson                       15                                        6.6

1976

Gerald Ford                              36                                       48

Jimmy Carter                          49                                        50

Eugene McCarthy                    4                                            0.91

1972

George McGovern                 34                                        37.5

Richard Nixon                        57                                         60.7

(Albert R. Hunt is Washington editor at Bloomberg News and a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View columnists and editors at the Ticker.

-0- Sep/09/2012 15:32 GMT

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