Even the experts are confused. One day George Bush has wiped out Bill Clinton's lead in the polls, the next day the Democrat is comfortably ahead. The problem, survey researchers explain, lies both in the polls and the public. Pollsters say the electorate, with no strong attachment to either candidate, really is extremely volatile. But the reliability of some polls is shaky because their very small samples--often less than 800--increase the margin of error. Pollsters also say the results are unstable because they are having a hard time figuring out just who is likely to vote this year. Journalists compound the problem with sloppy reporting. By treating different polls as equivalent when samples and methodology vary, the reports make it seem as though voters are veering wildly from day to day.

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