Gentlemen, Start Your Voting Machines

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Ed Andrieski/AP

Voters study sample ballots as they wait in line to vote in southeast Denver

Get thee behind me, Frank Luntz. Your time is over, over for you and all your ilk, because today we conduct the only poll that matters. Admit it. There were moments during the last 15 months when you wondered if this day would ever actually arrive.

But here it is: Election Day 2000. At long last, the seemingly incessant drone of television and radio ads will grind to a halt. The maddening phone calls will come to an end. Red, white and blue balloon sales will drop precipitously.

But first, before Americans can enjoy a well-deserved rest in the wake of this political storm, we're faced with one final, all-important task. It's time to get out there and vote.

If you need a bit of extra inspiration to get you to the polls, think of George W. Bush and Al Gore, who've spent the last few days running themselves into the campaign trail. Monday, both candidates traveled thousands of miles, kissed countless babies and stumped until their throats were raw. The strain was showing on both men; at a Sunday rally in Dearborn, Mich., Gore twice called Bruce Hornsby, the evening's entertainment, Rogers Hornsby, who as we all know was in fact the Rajah, the fabulous (and deceased) second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals during the '20s. Meanwhile Bush provided his usual quota of flubs, calling the inheritance tax the "death penalty" (he was searching for "death tax"). Even after all that, both candidates are widely expected to summon the energy to vote today.

Bush is back in Austin, where he'll watch the returns with his family. The governor's last-minute push included stops in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Bentonville, Ark., tweaking both Gore and President Clinton with rallies in their home states. Gore, who was on the road until early Tuesday morning, is also taking a break at home in Carthage, Tenn. The vice president worked a 30-hour day Monday, flying between Iowa, St. Louis and Flint, Mich. before arriving in Florida.

And while all known predictors point to a real nail-biter today, and even die-hard pundits are at a total loss to call a winner, both Bush and Gore seem confident in the outcome. And in less than 24 hours, all the speculation, all the prognostication and the guesswork will be moot: We'll finally be privy to the final chapter of this never-ending story. And then Luntz, Gallup, et al. can get to work on polling to see why it worked out the way it did.