I'm Addicted to Polls

But, writes David Brooks, he really shouldn't be
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2012 12:12 PM CDT
In this Oct. 3, 2012, file photo combo, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama speak during their first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Goldman/Eric Gay)

(Newser) – David Brooks has a confession to make: "Hello, my name is David, and I’m a pollaholic," he writes in the New York Times, revealing that he's spent hundreds of hours over the past few months obsessing over any and every election poll he can find, checking the latest results multiple times per day, and then spending even more time reading analysis of those polls. But all he's learned, after wasting "a large chunk of my life I will never get back," is that "if the election were held today (which it won’t be), then President Obama would be a bit more likely to win. At the same time, there seems to be a whiff of momentum toward Mitt Romney. That’s it."

He knows he's wasting his time, but he can't stop "sipping Gallup, chugging Rasmussen, gulping Pew, trying to figure out how it will all go down," Brooks writes. If he could approach the subject more rationally, he would treat polls simply "as a fuzzy snapshot of a moment in time," because piles of evidence show that it's nearly impossible to accurately predict human behavior. And even if we were that predictable, the election is not—at any moment, a controversy could erupt, and "you can’t calculate odds that capture unknown reactions to unknown events." Still, none of that will stop him. Click for Brooks' full column. (Read more opinion polls stories.)

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