Frustration is up 90 percent with latest political polls

Last Sunday in the “Commentary” section, we ran a column by The New York Times’ David Brooks that perfectly captured my predicament this election season: I am addicted to political polls and punditry, even though I know they are all just daily snapshots of how a relatively small number of voters think, not concrete forecasts of what will happen on Election Day.

But, like that awful candy corn that appears around Halloween each year, pure sugar that I know is bad for me, I just can’t help myself. I’ve got to have more.

So, each day I indulge myself multiple times with Internet searches for the latest poll numbers from Gallup, Rassmussen, Quinnipac, Marist and others. And I read numerous analytical pieces about what all these numbers mean for President Barack Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney or control of the House and Senate.

I try to view articles from all sides of the political spectrum in order to avoid the political mistake known as “cocooning.” In the political world, cocooning means to only read or listen to news that supports your own viewpoints, and because of that, to frequently miss more objective news or views.

So, in my objective search for election analysis last week, I read a compelling piece from President George W. Bush’s former chief of staff and ace Republican strategist Karl Rove, explaining why Romney is almost sure to win. The same day, I read a piece by a Washington Post writer who had interviewed David Axelrod, senior strategist for the Obama campaign, which explained just as clearly why Obama will almost certainly be re-elected.

I saw polls that made it abundantly clear Romney was winning the vote tally among early voters, and others that said Obama was definitely the victor when it comes to early votes.

What to believe? Pullng my hair out seemed a reasonable response, but I want to conserve the small amount that is left.

Here’s what I can say with certainty after months of studying the polls and analyses of them: Either Obama or Romney will win the election after the Nov. 6 tally is complete, probably by a very small margin.

Pretty gutsy call, huh? Well, don’t blame me, blame the polls.

I also believe there is some chance Romney could win by a reasonably large margin, say along the lines of Ronald Reagan’s victory margin in 1980. But that requires an awful lot of things to break just right for Romney, and it seems unlikely that will happen.

Based on all of the poll numbers that show Obama rarely topping 50 percent, his support (or lack thereof) among independents and statements from people like Axelrod, there doesn’t seem much chance the president will be re-elected by a large margin. In fact, there are a number of folks who believe the president could lose the popular vote to Romney and still win the Electoral College vote, as Bush did in his 2000 campaign against Al Gore.

That’s certainly a possibility. But even if that doesn’t occur, I think there’s a very good chance we won’t know who the next president will be when we wake up Wednesday morning.

Already, there is talk of election problems in Ohio, perhaps the key swing state. The former secretary of state there said it could be 10 days after Nov. 6 before the final Ohio vote tally is known.

Hurricane Sandy delayed early voting in many places along the Eastern Seaboard last week, but it also created havoc for numerous polling locations to be used Tuesday. As a result, the state of New Jersey plans to deploy military trucks to serve as polling places Nov. 6 in storm-battered communities. That could mean more time counting ballots in those areas.

Finally, both sides already have teams of lawyers at the ready in a number of states to contest the results if the presidential race is fairly close. We know how that delayed election results in Florida in 2000.

So, I’m not counting on writing an editorial for Wednesday’s paper that congratulates either Obama or Romney for his victory.

For the record, I hope Mitt Romney wins.

One of the maddening things for a poll junkie like me is that there aren’t more polling numbers for races such as the 3rd Congressional District battle between incumbent Republican Scott Tipton and Democratic challenger Sal Pace.

The most recent polling I’ve seen was from early last month, and it suggests a very slight lead for Tipton. But that was before both candidates really dipped into their war chests to buy campaign advertising.

And there’s virtually no polling data available on local legislative or county commissioner races. We can only make guesses, based on party registration and the historical record. But using historic precedent may not be so accurate this year because of legislative redistricting.

The biggest question in local races seems to be whether Libertarian Tim Menger can gain any traction in his battle against Republican Jared Wright for the House District 54 seat.

Today marks an end for people like me. Oh, I know, it’s two more days until the election. But most of the presidential tracking polls present their final numbers today. I expect to be in serious withdrawal Monday.

Anybody got some candy corn?

Bob Silbernagel is the editorial page editor of The Daily Sentinel. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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