Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
6:44 pm EDT
Monday, June 27, 2022

Final Thought: Confessions of a political junkie

“My name is James, and I’m a pollaholic.”

I don’t smoke cigarettes. However, I sympathize with those who cannot quit. I have a terrible habit myself. Every other year when presidential or midterm elections are held, I become a pollaholic. Simply put, I spend too much time examining election polls. 

I trace my disease’s roots back to college. One of my degrees was in political science. Yes, I jokingly tell everyone I earned a B.S. in BS. I graduated in 2000. That same year, I watched the presidential election and became fascinated by the ensuing 36-day legal battle. 

The Bush-Gore fiasco was my political coming of age. I’ve paid close attention to every election since then. This year is no exception. Yes, the midterm elections are five months away, but that doesn’t stop me from Googling “latest polls” several times a day or checking the polling averages on the website realclearpolitics.com.   

As the election draws closer, my habit likely will increase to a dozen times a day. And while most Americans are sipping their morning coffee, I’m checking to see if any new polls were released between midnight and 7 a.m.

I have to remember that different polling methodologies will yield different results. Thus, pollaholics can endure a roller coaster of emotions in a matter of minutes. 

“And in the latest news, the Rasmussen poll just released has (my candidate) up by four points.”

I delude myself. “Yes, that’s the most legitimate poll out there!”  Then I flip to another news channel. 

“The Washington Post-ABC News poll has (my candidate) down two points nationally and trailing in three important battleground states.”

I delude myself again. “Meh. That poll samples too many voters from the other party.”

Actually, polls can miss the mark. The 2018 governor’s race in Florida between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum is a great example. Gillum led in 33 of the 36 polls taken between late August and early November. In fact, one poll released on election eve showed Gillum with a seven-point lead. Guess what? DeSantis won by 32,463 votes. 

Polls also can be predictable. We know a presidential candidate will receive a bounce in the polls after choosing a running mate or speaking at his party’s national convention. Similarly, a gaffe on the campaign trail could temporarily send his poll numbers plummeting.

But even if polls are flawed and predictable, dammit, they’re exciting. I mean, when our candidate is leading, it’s validation that our political views are what is best for America. Secondly, I can celebrate and take pleasure in seeing the disappointed faces of those on the other side of the political aisle. Third, I can prematurely envision whom my candidate will nominate for the Supreme Court and how he’s going to handle domestic and foreign affairs.

Still, I need help. After the 2022 midterms, I’m going to begin a 12-step program. Hopefully, by the presidential election in 2024, I can stop my addiction cold turkey. 

I just hope they have patches by then. 

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