BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? If you're a born-and-bred political junkie like me (my father's the head of a trade association), you're checking the polls with a frequency to shame those lab rats they train to push levers so they can dose themselves up with crack. Polling Report, Real Clear Politics, Slate's Election Scorecard . . . it's a wonder I get any sleep at all.
But what does it mean for the election when Hawaii suddenly, and astonishingly, trends Bush? How come none of the polls agree? And why can't they invent a really good fat free ice cream so I won't gain thirty pounds waiting for the results to come in? A good place to start is this handy list of electoral votes from the Federal Elections Commission. And Mystery Pollster has lengthy explanations of all the Big Questions in polling, like "Aren't there, maybe, please God, a lot of extra Democratic voters the polls are missing because they only have cell phones?" (Answer: Probably not.)
If you're a Republican and want to tweak your Democratic friends, send them the FEC list and point out that, contrary to the arguments of Ruy Teixera and John Judis in The Emerging Democratic Majority, states that went for Bush in 2000 had a net gain of electoral votes (and thus population) after the last census, while states that went for Gore lost population and seats in the electoral college.
All in all, I feel a bit like the friend of a friend, who tried to cure his alcholism by taking up cocaine. He thought he could use the drug to wean him from liquor and then quit it, too, but ended up as a cocaine-addicted alcoholic. (I wrote a bit more about him here.) I want my blogs and my polls! Now! Please? A drink would be nice, too, but not for a few hours.