The Top Line On Polls

As the presidential race heads for its final days, the polls are being watched more closely than ever. They continue to diverge widely, showing everything from a 3% Kerry lead to an 8% advantage for Bush. How accurate can they be? Notebook asks some common questions.

Are pollsters sampling the whole country? Pollsters usually interview about 1,000 registered voters and, thanks to the magic of statistical math, 95% of the time those 1,000 accurately reflect the opinions of the entire country, give or take a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. But some people are not reached. Polls are...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!