Shifting Mist

Pit-bull politics and weak voter conviction make the polls bounce

Political polls, in general, should be presented to the public with more warnings than cigarette packs. Besides the standard notice about potential sampling error, surveys can be skewed by ephemeral news flurries. Further, they cannot predict election results; "horse-race" studies merely provide a snapshot of voter sentiment at one instant in a long campaign. But even that modest claim is shaky in the tumult of Campaign '88. The profusion of polls this summer resembles not so much an album of still photographs as a movie of Keystone Kops at their most kinetic. "Hardly an hour goes by without new figures coming...

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