"Mitt Romney has a slight edge over President Obama in the race for the White House in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll."
Thus does CBS moan in another of its statistical orgasms. It then whispers softly, though, that "Romney's slight advantage remains within the poll's margin of error"--which of course promptly erases any presumption of a Romney "edge."
Just as promptly comes CBS' flooding memory of those other, empty, meaningless, one-night statistical stands: Ah yes, there was Obama on top, in February and March; there was Romney in the saddle, in January; and also in January the two were melded, from time to time, in an equal, horizontal embrace.
All of which is titillating indeed; but, as mentioned, is utterly meaningless, unless one of them opens roughly an 8-10 point advantage and stays there--which is vastly unlikely to happen now that the whorrifying W. Years are slipping from the nation's memory and the electorate, consequently, has resettled into its roughly 45-45 partisan divide.
Oh, did I mention that presidential elections aren't decided by national popular vote? One can flush just about 44 upcoming, predetermined state returns and concentrate only on the remaining, decisive few. And there "the path" for Romney is, as the Washington Post reported earlier this month, rather "narrow."
(I noticed this morning that David Brooks is calling Obama the "ESPN Man." As silly as that sounds, in its socially scientifically-hipster-Brooksian way, it is also perhaps true in the sense that Obama, in view of last week's developments, has clearly decided to at least give Romney a sporting chance in some of those "bi-," swinging-states, like North Carolina.)
So the next time you experience another of these neck-and-neck national polls, just lie back and have a cigarette handy and try to keep in mind that even the worst of these things is about as good as it gets.