Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Step Away From the Crack Pipe!
Sometimes I'll read an item that just perfectly seems to mesh with whatever was going on in my head anyway. After obsessively poring over political polls for the last eight, twelve, fifteen months--probably since Howard Dean first started to surge in the Democratic nomination race--I have reached a point of despair that they'll tell me anything about the underlying state of the presidential race. Looking at the polls has become an end unto itself, and what I see triggers some level of emotional reaction even as I know that, say, electoral-vote.com is so screwy in terms of methodology that its "findings" are essentially meaningless.

So here's an article--ironically, posted on the Zogby website--that points out, among other things, just how badly I've wasted all those hours over the last year-plus:

Opinion polls are the narcotic of choice for the politically active part of the American electorate. Like all narcotics, polls have their uses: they sometimes allow us to function better as political practitioners or even as dreamers, and don't forget that fabulous rush of exhilaration when our candidate shows dramatic gains. But polls are an addiction that also distort our political feelings and actions even as they trivialize political campaigns -- and they allow our political and media suppliers to manipulate us ruthlessly. The negatives, as pollsters might say, outweigh the positives.

Yup. And yet I have an uncomfortable sense that when November 3 dawns and I have no polls to check, there will be some kind of void.

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