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Polling madness

Second only to Lawrence O'Donnell's meltdown, the biggest subject in my e-mail this week has been Kerry's unexpected Rasmussens' tracking poll. I haven't written about this yet because I'm still not quite sure what to say about it.

I suppose I'm skeptical. It's not because I'm in denial, folks. I've said all along that Kerry can still win this thing, and he may indeed be pulling ahead in the polls. But this one still strikes me as bizarre.

The Rasmussen tracking poll has been quite steady for months. It never exhibited the wild and unrealistic oscillations that other polls displayed. But how does one explain this? Remember that these numbers reflect three-day moving averages. Rasmussen claims that Kerry held a slight lead in all three polling days that went into the most recent sample (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), yet the trendline has been smooth, and Kerry didn't pull into the lead until yesterday.

How does one make that work? I've been testing different scenarios with my calculator, and it's not easy. These results can be obtained if you assume that Kerry had a razor-thin lead in both Friday and Saturday's sample, but took off hugely in Sunday's. But why would this be the case? I don't really see any news that could be driving it. I'm more likely to view Sunday's results as a statistical anomaly, particularly since Zogby's tracking poll remains smooth, and even shows Bush expanding his lead.

I will say this about Rasmussen. Maybe it's just my imagination, but it seems to me that Bush always fares worse on Mondays than on other days. I don't know why that should be, but perhaps Republicans, since they are more likely to work for a living, are more protective of their weekend time, and less likely to answer pollsters' questions. Perhaps this is even more of a factor during the World Series?

Ah, who the hell knows. When Rasmussen releases his new numbers at noon, it will perhaps shed some light on the subject. Meanwhile, Zogby's new numbers are out, and they show Bush maintaining his 3-point lead. Zogby is now more Bush-friendly than Rasmussen! It's like a Bizarro world. It's hard to know what the hell is going on at this point.