What do springtime polls tell us about the general election?

It is easy to get lost in the weeds. But, of course, the election is still more than six months away, and in the past 10 presidential campaigns, the national polling leader in late April has won the election only half of the time…

The leader in national polls at the end of April in the past two elections has gone on to win. Before 2004, however, the April leader lost the popular vote more often than not.

The two biggest misses came in 1980 and 1992, both years that featured legitimate third-party candidates. President Jimmy Carter was narrowly leading a three-way race in 1980, with the independent John Anderson garnering nearly 21 percent of the vote (Mr. Carter actually led Ronald Reagan by 15 percentage points when polls tested a head-to-head match-up).