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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004 07:36 am

common sense 10-28-04

art1507

Everywhere I travel, I hear the cries of anxious progressives who fear that President George W. Bush is about to be elected. "The polls, the polls," they wail, pointing to constant reports that the election is nip and tuck.

Let me say it plainly: The polls are horse hockey. And George W. Bush is a one-term president, just like his daddy. Here's why:

First, the sad little secret of pollsters is that roughly a third of the people in their "scientific samples of voters" hang up when called. This wreaks havoc on the validity of their samples. Second, noted independent pollster John Zogby says flatly that this year's polling has largely been skewed to Bush because more Republicans than Democrats are being called.

Third, pollsters are working from lists of "likely voters" -- Americans who've been voting regularly in past elections. This leaves out the half of the electorate who have not been voting in recent presidential runs. This time, a significant percentage of these "unlikely voters" are going to show up at their polling booths. They're motivated by Bush's failed economic policies, the ongoing mess he has made of Iraq, and a growing sense that America is headed in the wrong direction.

Fourth -- and this will be a big source of Bush's November surprise -- young people are headed to the polls in droves. Registration of 18- to 29-year-olds is through the roof this year, mostly motivated by the war, the expectation that a draft will be imposed after the election, and the disappearance of middle-class opportunities for their generation.

Why isn't this surge in the youth vote reflected in the polls? Because many young folks rely on cell phones, and pollsters don't have these numbers, so practically none of them has received a call from a pollster.

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