This whole Gore-Dean thing got me thinking. Everyone's crowned Howard Dean the inevitable nominee. Game over. All this without one caucus, one primary, one contest -- anywhere. Not one vote has been cast. But yet it seems like the die has been cast.
Imagine if a tall, lanky backwoodsman named Abraham Lincoln had to rely on polls before seeking the presidency back in 1860. He'd have been laughed off the ballot before there was a ballot.
Harry Truman didn't poll well in 1948. But last time I checked, he won in 1948.
Richard Nixon was a third choice among Republicans polled in 1967. He went on to get his party's nomination and the election in 1968.
Look, for all I know, these polls are right. Howard Dean is "the" guy in New Hampshire, maybe now Iowa too.
But I can remember when Eugene McCarthy was suddenly "the" guy in 1968. When Ed Muskie was "the" guy in 1972. And when a guy named Scoop Jackson was "the" guy in 1976.
Polls shouldn't elect presidents. We should.
Sentiment is one thing. Banking on it being bible is another.
Would a former Princeton University professor named Woodrow Wilson have polled well? Or an argumentative John Adams? Or an out of nowhere Jimmy Carter?
I don't think so.
Look, polls are nice. But there's a big difference between measuring sentiment at the moment and a leader for the future.
I heard one network anchor say he was ticked off at a recent debate that we had to hear from Carol Mosley Brown or Dennis Kucinich, presumably because these guys didn't have a chance.
No election told him that. Polls told him that.
I don't know if I was more offended for them being dismissed, or that pompous network anchor for being the one to dismiss them. Dismiss them based on nothing more than a poll? Please.
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