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The Why's Guy

Latest poll: No one cares about polls

Finally, it's time to vote.

Floridians can now go to the polls to cast early ballots in what is shaping up as a historic presidential election.

If only we didn't have to hear about those other polls from now until Nov. 4.

Throughout this 2-year campaign we've been battered by wave after wave of opinion polls that drive news during election season.

I don't care who was leading yesterday, who is ahead today or what it means for tomorrow.

Do you?

But the media are drawn to the results like senators to pork projects. Reporters, intoxicated by each set of new numbers, rush to call their "experts," who provide an analysis of today's data.

The media have become so addicted that we now have daily tracking polls to tell us how the race has changed — in the last 24 hours.

Why stop there? Let's do one every hour. Or better yet, cable TV could do it live. Call it the 24/7 presidential poll.

This stuff helps the politicians, but does it give voters any insight into the candidates?

Even Sarah Palin couldn't answer "you betcha" on that one.

Why would anyone care who other people are going to vote for, or why they made their choice?

I also worry whether the polls might have a negative effect on the election. Will some people stay home because polls say the candidate of their choice is far behind? Or well ahead? And I've encountered people who cast their ballot for the candidate who leads in the polls, just so they could say they backed the winner.

But an even bigger concern is whether the results are accurate. It is impossible to know, because there is one factor the pollsters can't control.

Us.

Some of us refuse to take part.

Some of us get embarrassed.

And some of us lie.

So I vote for a moratorium on asking about presidential preference during the last two weeks of the campaign.

But we want to keep all those pollsters employed until election day, so I have a few questions they could ask instead.

1. If a "red state" becomes a "blue state" is there a moment when it's purple? Followed by: If a "blue state" turns "red" is there a moment when it becomes purple? (Imagine the "experts" trying to explain if the results are different.)

2. Would you rather live in a red state, a blue state or a green state?

3. Will there again be a recount in Florida?

4. Will Florida's voters again be the laughingstock of the nation?

5. Considering everything he has done for Florida, should Mickey Mouse be allowed to vote?

6. Age before beauty? (Skip that one, it might be too close to reality.)

7. And this one for undecided voters: Do you plan to choose before the inauguration?

Those will provide a few chuckles. But they can't replace the only poll that matters.

I guarantee that one will be the most accurate of the bunch, the most scientific. No one will need to question how the poll was taken. And there won't be a margin of error.

I'm going to wait for that one. I expect the results will be reported not long after the last vote is cast on Nov. 4.

Unless, of course, the answers to questions 3 and 4 are yes.

Times staff writer Kyle Kreiger rants about the serious and silly with one question in mind: Why? He can be reached at kreiger@sptimes.com. To read previous columns, click on his name at the top of this rant.

Latest poll: No one cares about polls 10/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 26, 2008 1:10pm]

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