You can’t beat somebody with nobody

I have never understood the point of polls that match an unnamed candidate from one party against a named candidate from the other party.

The most recent example comes from the Gallup organization, which says that an unnamed Democratic candidate would handily defeat President Bush in an election held today.

But if such an election were held today, it would be between Bush and another person, not between Bush and a generic Democrat on whom we can project our hopes and wishes. And that person would have strengths and weaknesses, and a particular public image that would work for or against him. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton might appeal to significantly different groups of voters, and those differences could decide the race.

So what is the point of these polls?

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