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Fairport-E.Rochester Post
  • Philip Maddocks: Presidential candidates seek to win over undecided opinion polls in swing states

  • Frustrated with the slow pace of voters, who often take months, sometimes years to make up their minds — only to change them during the next election cycle — candidates for higher office are increasingly taking their messages to opinion polls where decision-making is certain and the results instantaneous.


     

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  • Frustrated with the slow pace of voters, who often take months, sometimes years to make up their minds — only to change them during the next election cycle — candidates for higher office are increasingly taking their messages to opinion polls where decision-making is certain and the results instantaneous.
    “There’s no point in being coy,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s adviser. “While the voter is a storied part of our history, he has, like the Model A and the quill pen, given way to something faster and more convenient, which also has a plus or minus margin of error of three percentage points.”
    Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney have feverishly embraced the new rubric that sometimes yields contradictory results but with astounding sureness and at astonishing speed.
    Anxious to woo undecided polls in a number of swing states still seemingly up for grabs, the two presidential candidates have ramped up their campaigning schedules, delivering dozens of stump speeches and meeting with hundreds of pollsters at scores of locations across the country.
    “It’s time to take our message directly to the opinion polls because in a functioning democracy like ours it is the polls, not some politician in Washington, that will have, and deserve to have, the final say in November,” Mr. Obama said during a speech Wednesday at a packed conference room at the headquarters of Gallup.
    Mr. Romney, speaking at a Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll meeting in New York earlier this week, reiterated his belief that “polls are people.”
    “I want to see this country and its polling regain their greatness again, and together, with hard work and plus-50 percent numbers with a sampling size of 1,182 likely voters, we can once again make America the envy of the free world,” Mr. Romney said, pounding his dog-eared copy of “Tea Partying for Technocrats” for emphasis.
    The Republican presidential candidate promised that his administration’s policies would lead to the creation of millions of new polls and put the U.S. back on its feet again.
    “As I travel across this great nation, polls everywhere are telling me that I need to take this country in a new direction,” Mr. Romney said. “And I want those polls to know that I am hearing their message loud and clear, that I get it. If man is not a direct descendent of polling, he at least owes his supremacy in the world to their intelligent design.”
    While Mr. Romney has solid support from older white polls, many others remain skeptical that that the former Massachusetts governor has the answer for the ailing economy, and 67 percent of those polls are unsure what his answer might be and doubt it is heading in the right direction.
    Mr. Obama’s campaign is confident that the president’s message — that he understands the problems of 71 percent of the ordinary people — will continue to resonate with polls and capture 84 percent of the excitement of 2009 when his favorability rating soared to 62 percent.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I still believe in you, and I hope you — within the statistically acceptable margin for error — still believe in me,” the president told pollsters for University of Pennsylvania National Annenberg Election Survey, his tie still knotted to the top at the end of an 18-hour presentation at which Mr. Obama discussed, in almost scholarly fashion, the metrics of selecting sampling groups and the influence that question formulation has on polling answers.
    With Election Day five months off, the campaign to win over the polls has increasingly consumed Mr. Obama’s days and his White House, shaping his schedule, his message and many of his decisions.
    As he blitzes battleground states, the president betrays no signs of self-doubt or worry even though only once in two years has his approval rating in New York Times/CBS News polls exceeded 50 percent. Like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before him, he powers through adversity with defiant resolve, hoping to prove that the sampling in these polls is skewed or there is a miscalculation in the margin of error.
    “I’m not sure about the voters – who is?” an assured Mr. Obama told a group of pollsters at an Origin of Polling Life Gala at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. Pausing, as a heckler, who looked like Donald Trump, demanded to see the president’s birth certificate, Mr. Obama then added, “So all we can do now — all any politician can do now — is hope the numbers don’t lie.”
    Philip Maddocks is a political satire columnist for GateHouse News Service. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.
     
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