by Jimmy Breslin (Newsday,Inc. Copyright 2004)
October 21, 2004
On Sept. 15, there were 168,900,019 cell phones in America, according to the cell phone institute in Washington.
Not one phone user was called by the political pollsters reporting with such marvelous accuracy on the Bush-Kerry race. A month later, on yesterday afternoon, there now were 170,475,160 cell phones in America, according to the cell phone institute.
In one month, 1,575,000 new cell phones have been bought.
Not one cell phone has been called during the presidential campaign. This is because there is no method for polling cell phones. Nobody has their numbers. Nor do they know who the users are, where they live and what they do. You have 170 million phones and you talk to none of them and then try to say you know what the public is thinking.
A month ago, pollster John Zogby said he had discontinued telephone polls because cell phones had made any and all results meaningless. Now if you pay attention to polls, you are insane.
Yesterday, the polls showed a Bush surge. It never happened because they were basing it on thin air. There also were figures showing Kerry winning states like Ohio in the Miwest. They came up with the percentages without calling one cell phone of the millions and millions of them in the area. I believe nothing.
Everybody maintains that the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat. Nobody knows that. With a huge number of new registered voters, overwhelmingly of color, and young, and with 40 million using cell phones, the only thing going on in this election is how many times George Bush goes under before he drowns on Election Day. As he should. He is the worst president we have had, maybe ever.
Yesterday on the East Side of Manhattan, they counted 40,000 new registrations. You didn't need 10 of them, for this is a Kerry district, and state. But it showed the level of animosity toward Bush. I was at a book signing at Sarasota the other day, and 400 Democrats were there. A rare number. The next day, they raised $100,000 when Joe Biden appeared for Kerry. Over the last several weekends, groups have come down from Connecticut to go door to door for Kerry in Tampa. I saw cell phones everywhere.
The newspaper and television polls aren't worth glancing at. They are taken of people who have land lines, as your house phone is known. Many millions have cell phones and land lines both, and can be reached. But there are about 40 million between 18 and 29 who only use cell phones. They are heavily Democratic. The usual view is that they vote sparingly. This time, with the word "draft" in the air the young breathe, and with a general and intense dislike of Bush, the number should be higher than usual. Even if it is disappointing, the numbers are so huge to begin with that Kerry will be your president on a 917 vote.
Older people are Bush voters and they are deficient in making cell phone calls. When it buzzes, chimes or rings with an incoming call, they are breathless.
Yet the newspapers and television are running polls as if they are excerpts from textbooks at MIT. They are taken with 20th century methods for a 21st century political race. "Our scientific poll is based on interviews with 532 people, and has an error margin of 3 percent, one way or the other. Of course that makes 6 percent, but that's close enough for us."
They are lies by numbers. The reporters basing their coverage on these polls are lazy, unimaginative and irresponsible. That everything is based on an untruth could be the reason for the dreadful election coverage. What they write or say so often has nothing to do with the times in which they are supposed to live and report.
In the week ending Oct. 17, there were 23 American soldiers killed in Iraq. I saw no prominent mention anywhere. If there were 23 policemen killed in New York in a week, the city would shut down. If there were 23 police officers killed in the nation in a week, it would be a national calamity.
But the 23 dead American soldiers went virtually unmentioned. I watch the "Today" show and they say that now we are going to see all the good things happening in Iraq. Insanity.
I think common sense says that the issue of the campaign is the dead soldiers who are in Iraq because George Bush lied to get us into the war. Younger people might feel a little closer to a casket holding the young.
They talk on cell phones, and when they talk they say, "Where are you? Did you hear George Bush saying the jobs are improving? Where? And for how much? He is making this a $9-an-hour country. Did you hear his idea on Social Security? We can give it to a stock broker to steal. Did you hear him saying a word about the guys getting killed in Iraq? No. He wants to make like it never happens. So long. I'm going into the building, and I'm going to lose you."