Friday, September 19, 2008

Turn Off The News! by Michael Goldberg

A lot of people are walking around shocked by the election polling news, as reported this morning 9/19 by NPR, feeling worse and more scared by the day. But here's the thing about these polls that are called "news":
To be polled, you have to answer your land line phone. Only about half of people in their 20's even have one.
To qualify as a respondent, you have to be a "likely voter", which pollsters have always determined in the past as people who've voted before. They're trying to adjust their technique, but at best they're really just experimenting.
Over-all, the daily polling only means that, as of that day or hour, about everyone who voted for Bush favors McCain, and everyone who voted for Kerry favors Obama as our first community organizer President.

The Obama campaign is going to own the ground on Election Day. In most cities in America, people are riding buses part of each day with registration cards, signing people up. Not only the on-line, but the phone banking and door knocking is going great, and is highly organized, often under the local supervision of experienced organizers who have been at key locations for 5 - 18 months. There's no way the pollsters nor the pundits can keep up.

They might be missing the story, too. Retailers are selling baby onesies with slogans on them like My Momma's for Obama and Barak-a-bye Baby. A Mommy group I know of lined up their babies, each in his'her own Obama-ware, and took a photo, so those children would grow up knowing they'd been part of the 2008 election. Imagine anyone having done that in any past presidential election. And who buys onesies? People young enough to have babies in diapers. And of course young people, like African Americans and the poor, have had the lowest voting rates.

In the 2000 election, 76% of the eligible population was registered, and of those, two-thirds, or 51.3% of the total, showed up or were allowed to vote at the polls. It was close. So in 2004, registration went up to 79%, and turn out was 69% of those -- the newly registered voted. Still only represented 55.3% of the total.

So here's my advice for the next few weeks. QUIT FOLLOWING THE POLLS, and in fact, turn off the news when that's what's on. Instead, spend time with young adults. Show up every day, and then again on Election Day. And then, keep showing up every day. It's not like President Obama is going to make things OK. Like he says, it's not about him -- it's about us.

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