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Sean Hartofilis Headshot

Sitting on Polls

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It's a shame that it's taken a financial crisis--folks losing their jobs, plenty more losing their homes--to shift the polls so strongly in Obama's favor, as all the pundits have been claiming. But, whatever happens to be changing people's minds (if, in fact, they are changing), it's nice that they're changing for, I believe, the far better.

If Obama loses, though, if these polls prove to have been nothing more than a fallacious flock of red herrings, then, never mind the job disappearances that allegedly resulted in the polls swinging so heavily for Obama, we should demand the job disappearance of every pollster across the nation and an immediate end to all polling forever.

It's weird: I've never been polled; I don't know anyone who's ever been polled; I don't know anyone who knows anyone who's ever been polled; and in a polling of fifty random people on the street, I found that not one had ever been polled, leading me to extrapolate that zero percent of Americans have ever actually been polled (with a 3% margin of error). But, somehow, on every news network (shy Fox, obviously--for different reasons entirely) these polls are taken as the indisputable voice of the people, as if, just because they've forecasted sunshine, I should throw away my raincoat. And that's unfair. That's undemocratic. That's, at the very least, annoying as all hell.

It seems like every minute on every news show, someone--everyone--is referring to these God damned polls. Gallup's got Barrack up by 7 points; Rasmussen, he's up 3; Zogby, up 5; Busey, make it 2. Never mind that I don't actually know what that means, but now I'm hearing that these things didn't even reflect the vote--not just a few hundred folks with landlines or too much time at the mall, but the actual vote--in the Democratic primary, or in 2004.

These pundits (where do they all go, by the way, after the election?) should be discussing and debating the issues, not predicting the outcome. Because they can't know anything. Because I haven't voted yet! Most people have not voted yet! And, if you're telling people what's going to happen before they vote, isn't it be fair to assume a bit of apathy as a result--especially for the side that's thought to be winning--and a renewed fervor among the predicted losers? And won't that impact the electorate? Won't that alter the election?

It's gone from a political election to a game show, where your opinion about the price of apples affects my opinion, even if I've never met you before and never will, regardless of how much you typically pay for apples or if you secretly hate black people.

So, stop polling! Or, at least, stop telling us about the polls. Campaigns: fine--you want to poll, see which demographics you're reaching and failing to reach, then go for it. But don't give me the play by play like I should give a crap. Because, basically, these pollsters aren't much more than Vegas bookies calling a line. Sure, the Patriots were favored last year--heavily--but when they actually played the Giants in the Super Bowl, they got whupped--and probably, in no small part, due to the fact that they started believing their own odds.

So, please, stop it. Stop telling me how much Obama's going to win by and in which states. Because if he loses this frigging election, it's going to be that much more unbearable--if it's even possible that it could be any more unbearable than I'm imagining it will be--all because, for the last month, everyone was busy sitting on polls.

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