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Play ball! Explosion of polling makes White House race like spectator sport

Survey says: The 2008 presidential race will go down as the most polled and attitude-checked presidential election ever, further evidence that the White House race has become a spectator sport -- replete with a daily box score.

The number of presidential surveys taken in states around the nation this year -- 935 and counting -- has soared 70 percent compared with 2000, when Florida's White House-deciding election underscored the need for battleground state surveys, according to a survey.

Florida occupies a unique place in the polling: It's the largest swing state in the nation and carries 27 Electoral College votes -- 10 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. It's a must-win for Republican John McCain because Democrat Barack Obama likely has California and New York.

With The Miami Herald's poll predicting a neck-and-neck race, the numbers add to the buzz heading into the candidates' first real debate on Friday.

''Everybody loves a horse race. And we've got one,'' said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and co-founder of, a website devoted to polling.

There are so many polls that it can be tough for a voter to sort them out. In addition to the increase in state-based presidential polls since 2000, Franklin calculated that the number of state and national polls together has increased from 846 eight years ago to 1,291 now.

Although that's just a slight rise since 2004, there's also the sheer volume of discussion to take into account on TV, blogs and websites like, and

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