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David Burstein '11 and Jon Delano '71 are following this year's presidential election and will have updates throughout the campaign.
David Burstein '11 and Jon Delano '71 are following this year's presidential election and will have updates throughout the campaign.

The Road to the White House: What the polls can't tell us

Jon Delano: So, has Obama lost this race for president? Many think the choice of Sarah Palin has energized the Republicans and demoralized the Democrats.

David Burstein: Well, I think Palin is good news right now,    but we'll wait and see. Most Americans have just tuned into the election.

JD: I think most Americans are tired of this election. They want it over now.

DB: I know a lot of people who haven’t even started to tune in, and I know very few people who want it over.

JD: And I suspect 90 percent of Americans know exactly what they are going to do on November 4.

DB: But I think Palin was definitely a game changer. John McCain now has the potential to hold all Bush voters from ’04. But holding those voters won’t win him this election.

JD: I agree with that only because we have a number of new voters.

DB: Obama has an incredible number of new voters.

JD: But we also have the issue of race and polls do not accurately measure racism. Gov. Rendell used a 5 to 7 percent figure of racists who will not admit it to pollsters. So, if Obama is ahead by 3 or 4 points, he is really behind. Of course, I should be careful about tossing around the racist label. Is it racist for blacks to vote for a black because he is black?

DB: I’m not paying attention to polls. If this election cycle has taught us anything it is that polls are often wrong.

JD: Well, the polls are snapshots in time, not predictors of outcomes.

DB: But people act like they are the word of god.

JD: Not me. I tend to ridicule polls when I'm on TV and radio. People should average every poll out there, and then understand that even the averaged number is wrong more times than it is right! This election, in particular, may be difficult to poll accurately. What is absolutely amazing is that this election is so close. After all, traditional political analysis would suggest after eight troubled years and a bad economy, the party out of power (the Democrats) would be well ahead by now. What's the mood on campus about this election, David?

DB: Very excited. People want to get involved and see change.

JD: Is everyone registered?

DB: About 90 percent but we'll fix that up soon.

JD: Good work!

DB: Campuses across this country are so electrified.

JD: As for change, I interviewed both Obama and McCain during the last week, and both say they are the “change" artist. McCain accused Obama of never really pushing change in his own party, suggesting that his (McCain's) maverick nature proves he's the change candidate. Obama accused McCain of being a 90 percent supporter of George W. Bush, and (by definition) incapable of bringing change to Washington.

DB: Yeah, I think people are getting over this idea of change. I think the election is really shifting to personalities and to a degree the economy.

JD: But that was Obama's greatest theme line: change you can believe in.

DB: But I think he's become a person people can believe in and this has shifted to being about character and all sorts of superficial ideas about what character means.

The Climbing Stone, by Peter Rockwell '58, is located outside Magill Library.

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