In the Home Stretch
Every election season, the journalists and pundits covering the presidential race say the same thing -- this time, let's cover the issues and not the horse race. And every election season they go ahead and cover the horse race and not the issues. The major culprit behind the knee-jerking is all the polling. Just since the two conventions, we've seen endless speculation on who's up and who's down -- it changes daily, and even within the same day different polls reach different conclusions.
The fact is, as backed up by the good people at the National Council on Public Polls (yes, there is such a council), polls get more and more accurate as Election Day gets closer, but earlier in the cycle they can be way, way off. Another thing: While it is fun to know who's ahead in the national numbers, we don't elect our presidents by popular vote. You need to study polls state by state to see who is ahead where -- and how many electoral votes are up for grabs in that particular state. This election will be decided in a handful of toss-up states. So if you must bet on the ponies, dig a little deeper and check up on how your guy is doing in places like Missouri, Virginia and Ohio.