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On the Edge

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 25, 2004
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The best in last week's editorials from college campuses around the nation

Polls matter less than media think

The preliminary polls are in, and President Bush is well on his way to keeping his spot in the White House.

Well, kind of.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken after the final debate on Oct. 13 and released Sunday, shows Americans think Democratic candidate John Kerry did better in the debates than Bush did, but Bush is ahead in the popularity contest - he has 52 percent to Kerry's 44 percent.

In another poll among registered voters, Bush leads Kerry 49 percent to 46 percent.

Of course, both polls have a margin of error of four points. And, as any statistics professor will tell you, an eight-point difference in a poll with a four-point margin of error could very well mean Bush and Kerry are tied.

Swing states are blue in one poll, red in another and still blinking in a third. Which man is winning depends on what paper you read, what channel you watch, how the stars are aligned.

It's easy to get caught up in the results of a poll, especially when the candidates are close and even more so when candidates change places more often than J. Lo changes husbands.

But horserace journalism does no one any favors.

Focusing on the numbers takes the emphasis from where it should be: the issues.

In a close election with so many undecided voters, issues are more important than anything else. And where are more people looking to find the differences candidates' platforms? The press, be it print, broadcast or online.

Every 30 seconds that CNN spends on poll results is 30 seconds it's not spending on differences between health care plans; every story that begins "Bush has an eight-point lead over Kerry in the most recent Gallup Poll of registered voters" does nothing to explain how Bush and Kerry would tackle education.

Undecided voters are not going to be swayed by who's leading whom; they want to know which candidate matches their beliefs.

- Iowa State University's Iowa State Daily

Impartiality crucial to society

His election cycle has seen many new tricks. In Minnesota, we can add to politicizing of the judiciary to that list.

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page is running for re-election. Running against him is Tim Tinglestad, a child-support magistrate from Bemidji, Minn. Tinglestad said on his Web site that his candidacy is "in obedience to the Word and Spirit of God" and that "the Word" is the Bible. Page refuses to announce his views, religious or otherwise.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision created this situation when it held Minnesota's law prohibiting political statements by judicial candidates violated the First Amendment. Lower courts are still interpreting that ruling.

Judicial candidates should be evaluated on their education, legal experience, public service and the quality and reasoning of their judicial opinions. That Tinglestad has opinions and values is assumed. That he is a religious man is fine. That he seeks to be elected for having specific opinions is unacceptable.

Tinglestad's campaigning is a disservice, as it might lead the electorate to believe Tinglestad could and would make all his decisions consistent with the Bible. To the contrary, Tinglestad would have to make his decisions consistent with the law, regardless of whether it agrees with the Bible.

- University of Minnesota's Minnesota Daily

- Compiled from U-Wire

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