Syndicated columnist Marc Munroe Dion: Not with a 10-foot poll

Don't read any more polls, not even if the midterms are here.

Well, actually, you don't "read" polls. You "look at" polls. They're just numbers, although you can read a newspaper column containing poll numbers written by a guy like me, particularly if the guy like me needs to write something about an election that hasn't happened yet.

In the last few weeks, the various news sources to which I subscribe have deluged me with polls, interpretations of polls and rumors of polls to come.

I ignore it all.

The least useful pieces of information about an upcoming election are what other people think and how they're going to vote and about the opinion split between voters over 35 and voters under 37.

The only people who get any real good out of polls are the people running for office, who can use the polls to decide what they're going to pretend to believe in this week.

"Senator," the aide cries, running into his boss's office. "The polls say you're not talking enough about women's issues."

The next thing you know, the senator is standing behind the podium talking about equal pay for women even though he has no idea what a waitress earns, and if he's lucky, he never will.

"Governor," another aide says. "The Evangelicals we polled say you don't talk enough about God."

The next thing you know the governor is loudly insisting that a copy of the Ten Commandments should be glued to the forehead of every grade school teacher in America.

"The polls say you have to address the opioid crisis," a "consultant" tells the candidate.

"Thank God my kid's a junkie," the candidate says. "I got a way into this one. I'll make 'em cry when I talk about the pain my family has felt."

For the rest of us, polls are a distraction that turn our heads away from anything but politics as football, as an "our team versus their team" event."

That doesn't have a thing to do with democracy, and it encourages people to "root" for candidates or parties.

What's best to do during an election is to read as many words as you can. Find out where the candidates went to school, what they think, what they say they'll do, how they intend to do it, if they can do it, what's it going to cost and where they're going to get the money.

But that stuff's boring, and the American public refuses to be bored by politics. We will be cheated, lied to, hornswoggled, persuaded by cheap arguments, pandered to, romanced, butchered and damned, but we will not be bored.

Ever read a municipal budget? It's boring as heck, but it is the only by God document that tells you what's going on in a city. If you look close enough, even most of the illegal stuff is in the budget somewhere.

But to read it, you have to sit down and not look at your phone and not watch television, and you're going to need much coffee and quite possibly a pen to underline stuff.

That's why we have polls, so we can avoid the dreary work of plodding through budgets and legislation and similar things that run the country.

We say we like politics, but we don't. Not really. What we like is sports, and so now we look at the polls the way we look at the ever-changing odds on a football game. And we all think we're insiders because we say "battleground states," and the people who really run things steal the country right in front of us.

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