2008 looms large. Another national election, another chance to have our voices heard. As soon as we know what we think. What we want. Who we want to give us what we want for four years. Lord knows we need a change. Some of us know exactly who and what we want. Barack Obama. Most others, however, don’t have a clue. It’s all so confusing during primary season. Too many choices. Like a huge menu in a Chinese restaurant: nine or ten entrees in Column A, at least that many in Column B. What are we in the mood for?
Thank God for polls. We see ’em, hear ’em, read ’em every day. They tell us who’s in, who’s out, who’s sinking faster than Dubya in a vat of truth serum. If most people support, say, Giuliani over McCain or Clinton over Obama, we don’t have to think too hard. Or read much. Or learn a thing. Most people must be right. We can simply hop on the bandwagon. Only trouble is, we don’t know who those most people are. None of us ever gets polled. I can tell you, with all sincerity, I feel left out.
Or I did. Until the second week in July. It was, at last, my turn. Mine. I was polled by the kind folks at Rasmussen Reports. They’ve been tracking political races for over a decade. They are, they tell me, very accurate. I am, of course, thrilled. I like accuracy. And I get to be one of the esteemed most people crowd. Neat. Chalk one very, very smart most person up for Obama.
I take a deep breath, get my trigger finger poised to press #1 or #2 on my touchtone. My nostrils flare like a racehorse. I am ready to roll. First I have to answer all the usual stuff: my age, sex, party of choice, race, income. Then the fun begins…
“Press #1 if you feel the country is on the right track. Press #2 if you feel we’re off course.” That one’s easy. We’re more than off course, honey, we’re off the map. I press #2.
Now it gets complicated.
“Hillary Clinton chose to stay with her husband despite his infidelity. Does this make you more likely to vote for her (press #1) or less likely to vote for her (press #2)?” I’m stuck. There’s no “If you don’t give a rat’s patootie what she decided to do about her marriage, press #3” option. I would never choose not to vote for her over her decision about her marriage, but I am an Obama supporter… I press #2, but I feel a little guilty about it.
It gets worse.
“If Dick Cheney needed a kidney and asked you for one of yours, would you say ‘Yes’ (press #1) or ‘No’ (press #2)?” There’s no “If you’re committed to using both of your kidneys for the forseeable future but would humanely advise him to drink more water and offer to pray for him, press #3” option. Truth is, I can’t stand that guy. I might whack him one if I got the chance, but I wouldn’t kill him. I’m a really nice woman. I attend church regularly. I hesitate, but I press #2. At worst, I’m passive-aggressive. If he dies, he dies. Besides, there’s always dialysis. He’s made enough Haliburton money on his pet war to pay for it.
I’m beginning to have my doubts about this polling and accuracy business. I imagine hearing this next: “Would you rather shoot yourself in the head (press #1) or vote Republican in 2008 (press #2)?” My trigger finger is getting sweaty.
“Are you afraid of circus clowns? Press #1 for ‘Yes’, press #2 for ‘No.'” What the–? What do circus clowns have to do with elections? Did I miss something on The Situation Room or Hardball or Keith Olbermann? Or is there a bona fide phobia involved here? I press #2; the best thing–at the circus–is a good clown. But I worry about it.
And I’m done. It’s over. They thank me and disconnect. I Google “psychology: fear of clowns” to figure out what my answer meant. The news is not good. There is a phobia. Seems the exaggerated-happy-face clown who smiles while he beats up a smaller clown or kicks a dog scares some folks silly. You never know what evil lurks behind that big, red, happy smile.
The only candidate mentioned in the poll was Hillary Clinton. The only issue, her marriage. The only Republican mentioned was Dick Cheney–well, Cheney’s kidney. And the clown? I’m still not sure about him. I think, maybe, he’s that scary guy in the Oval Office now.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. You can’t trust polls. One wrong answer in the Rasmussen Poll and I skewed the results. I should have pressed #1. I’m terrified of clowns.