That NYT/CBS poll

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There’s a little nugget buried down deep in the CBS write-up of the story that a number of you have mentioned …

The picture in the states voting on Super Tuesday is not nearly as close as the overall picture and offers some good news for Clinton. Among voters in those states, she leads Obama, 49 percent to 31 percent, with 16 percent still undecided.

Remember, the overall poll has the two tied at 41%. So assuming there were respondents in rough proportion to the number of people from states voting Tuesday, Obama must be way up in the non-Super Tuesday states in order to be so far behind in the others.

This would not follow the pattern we’ve seen over recent months that has Obama improving his standing with voters once the race becomes actively contested in a given state. What’s more the result at least seems to be belied by state by state poll results that show Obama in a strong position in a lot of the Super Tuesday states.

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m not sure what those numbers mean. But there is one key point to keep in mind. The margin of error for this poll was 5% — with a survey of 491 Democratic primary voters. But the margin of error for a subset of the total survey is higher than that for the total. In this case, probably substantially higher since in this case we’re probably dealing with not many more than 200 respondents.

So, could mean anything, but the sample size is so small that spread just isn’t very reliable.

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