With the explosion of polls in this presidential election—almost as many national polls this month as there were during all of 2004—there's a real risk that polls themselves will drive behavior in the voting booth, Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal, urging voters not to let the numbers affect their choice. "It is much easier for journalists to devote the limited space in their papers or on TV to the horse-race aspect of the election rather than its substance," he notes, and in the last week, candidates offer little new substance.
"The danger is that commentators use them to declare a race over before the votes are in. This can demoralize the underdog's supporters, depressing turnout." He acknowledges that every poll since Sept. 25 has placed Barack Obama on top—and in the last 14 elections, only Ronald Reagan has clinched both the popular vote and the Electoral College after being behind in the Gallup Poll with one week to go. Obama looks like a winner, but in the next 5 days, writes Rove, "all of us should act with the proper understanding that nothing is yet decided."