Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Why the pundits will be surprised again

On election day 2000, we were in for quite a surprise when the race seemingly tightened in the last 24 hours of the vote, America who had leaned towards the new guy Bush, had entered the voting booths and as Fat Joe would say "leaned back" to the boring smart guy Al Gore. As results rolled in, Bush's two to three point lead in the polls had evaporated into a dead heat. The news networks quickly spiraled into chaos, calling states mere minutes after polls had closed, states that after recounts were decided by only hundreds of votes. Well, if you thought 2000 was a mess, wait three more weeks, and you'll have a front row seat to the sequel. The reason is the youth vote, the vote that always has been overlooked is being treated the same this year, but there is something different: Young People Care this time around! I thought most people my age just had passing opinions, but it's not the case, everyone I talk to is voting this year, kids who have never even thought about voting are saying "I'll be there". Whether it be rumors of the draft on the internets (couldn't pass that one up), the Howard Dean campaign, tuition costs, none of the jobs we were promised at the start of college and now that we're graduated that Starbucks cashier job is sadly starting to look tempting. It's all adding up. Only one problem, the polls are missing this magma of voters, they can hear the rumbling, but have no idea the mountain is about to erupt because they don't have the means to measure it. 18 year olds in high school don't get called by pollsters because their parents get passed these calls, college kids don't get called because their number changes every year and they never make it into a phone book, I lived five different places in my five years of college, new number each time. Post-grads like me aren't getting polled, because it's 2004 and we have cell phones now and don't need lan lines. "The Man" Joe Trippi is on the same page with me, posting yesterday about the exact same topic. He thinks there may be a 3 to 4 percentage point youth swing out there that is not getting picked up at all by any of the hundreds of polls. Its not that Brokaw and Russert don't care, they just don't know, but the look on their faces on Nov. 2nd when they can't figure out why the polling and the votes don't match should be priceless.


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