If you believe the polls…

October 19, 2012 

I have a feeling we could all be in for a long night on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

I’m talking 2000 long. Bush vs. Gore long. Hanging chads long.

OK, perhaps things will not be that bad.

Barring any major voting issues in any of the swing states, I highly doubt we will see weeks of counting ballots and challenges to the Supreme Court.

Still, if you believe the polls, the margins in many states are razor thin right now in the presidential race. And if those trends continue, the election could come down to all-night counting in Florida, Iowa and Colorado and TV pundits staying up late to break down every possible Electoral College scenario.

If you’re a political junkie, this is your Christmas.

If not, you’re ready for Nov. 7 to be here.

I like watching the polls, frankly. They often are a somewhat accurate overview of the political pulse of a state. Sure, there’s a margin of error. Undecided voters put a dent in the numbers. And those “likely” voters sometimes don’t get the attention of the pollsters, who can opt for simply those “registered” to vote.

If you’ve voted in the last three elections, you’re a likely voter. That is a poll I would put more stock into.

When watching the polls, I like to check out RealClearPolitics ( www.realclearpolitics.com). This site is an aggregate of many national polls. They tally them up and come up with an overall average.

As of Wednesday of this week, Republican Mitt Romney had just a 0.4 percent margin over President Barack Obama when you figure in all the polls.

None of the polls are particularly shocking right now, except a recent Gallup poll. In polling done from Oct. 10-16, Gallup had Romney up 6 points. That is easily the largest lead he has seen in these polls this year.

Other polls from Fox or ABC show Obama up a couple, Romney up 1 point. Certainly, Romney got a bump after the first debate that our president forgot to show up for.

After Tuesday night’s contentious town hall, furious polling will be done this week to see what consequence, if any, will come from that second debate.

Of course, all this is predicated on whether or not we voters should put any stock at all in the polls. This time four years ago, Obama-Biden shared a 6.7 percentage points lead over John McCain and Sarah Palin. That played out pretty close.

I tend to think these polls in 2012 are pretty accurate. And if that is the case, each vote is truly going to matter.

Don’t get stuck with that registered voter label. Be a likely voter. Who knows, based on what we have seen in the past in Florida and Ohio, your vote could turn out to be vital.

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