‘Too close to call’ means ‘go out and vote’ in Florida

The mere possibility of hearing the words “too close to call” again during the presidential election has been sending shivers down Floridians’ spines for the last four years. Now most polls are again projecting a very close race. Even though some of the polls may be proven wrong, it may be as close an election as it was in 2000. Translated, this means: Go vote.

There are several things wrong with the polls. Gallup, one of the most respected polls for years, has consistently oversampled registered Republicans. The same poll represents an unrealistically high number of voters earning $100,000 per year or more. Both groups are more likely to cast their vote for President George W. Bush than Sen. John Kerry, which skews the poll in Bush’s favor.

Often, newspapers and TV stations emphasize the spread (the number of points one candidate is supposedly leading over the other) which gives viewers or readers an inaccurate impression of where the election stands. Historically, incumbents with an approval rating around or below 50 percent have had a tough time being re-elected. Bush has been dipping below and hovering around that magic line for the past few weeks, making the Bush campaign nervous.

In such cases, 60 to 70 percent of undecided voters usually vote against the incumbent. Undecided voters have seen the incumbent perform and did not like what they saw. Historically such voters give the challenger the benefit of the doubt. This means that if Bush is standing toe to toe with Kerry like the St. Petersburg Times reported Monday, it actually gives Kerry an advantage as more undecided voters are likely to vote for him than Bush.

Bearing these facts in mind, the election is still close, but could tip either way easily.

The number of votes Bush was ahead in Florida when the Supreme Court ruled to halt recounts and effectively appointed Bush president was 563 votes. This edition of The Oracle has a circulation of 12,000 and can potentially reach 41,000 USF students. If the election is anywhere near as close as it was in 2000, Oracle readers alone could decide this election.