I have said in this space before that I do not have a great deal of faith in polls. I don’t think we have the ability to interview 250 Americans, render general by induction, and determine what candidate 250 million Americans actually favor. But another observation needs to be linked to this. It doesn’t matter if a handful of people don’t trust the polls. Everyone else appears to believe them, and, this being the case, the polls themselves help to shape the events they are pretending to record.
According to the polls, George Bush is pulling away from John Kerry. Now, whether or not this is true, what happens when everyone believes it is true? John Kerry starts to panic, CBS throws a Hail Mary pass (intercepted), and George Bush has that mysterious mantle of momentum draped around his shoulders.
There are reasons (other than the polls) to believe that this election is going to be a blowout in favor of Bush. And the polls, while unreliable as scientific predictors, are playing their part as a means of directing and shaping public opinion.