Polling in this presidential contest has shown Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied up more often than Houdini.
Tuesday will bring the only poll that counts, and for many citizens not a moment too soon.
The zigzagging polls may have reflected the ups and downs of the Obama and Romney candidacies this fall. They also may have been hopeful interpretations of a margin of error or varying calculations of likely voters.
Whatever, in its final pre-election tracking poll, The Washington Post and ABC reported a slight 50-47 Obama lead over Romney, which could be the combined product of Romney's campaign peaking too soon and Hurricane Sandy thrusting President Obama into a national leadership role.
Nate Silver, who writes a blog for The New York Times about polls, suggested Obama heads into Tuesday with a "very modest lead." But Silver noted that of the 12 national polls published over the weekend, three called the race dead even.
As the polls on the popular vote tightened in the last few weeks, attention turned with a vengeance to speculation over the Electoral College, which many today view as an Eighteenth Century relic and a 21st Century calamity-waiting-to-happen.
Pundits wondered endlessly about whether one candidate winning the popular vote and the other the necessary 270 electoral votes to claim the presidency — a vagary that has occurred before in American history. More angst was spilled on the prospect — which colored interactive maps illustrated — of the candidates winding up with an Electoral College tie, throwing the election to the GOP-controlled House.
What may be more useful to explore after the election is settled — Tuesday night, Wednesday or whenever — is how Americans wound up voting. We already have a clear picture of the stark divide between red and blue states, but what other schisms will the election bear out?
Pre-election polling indicates Obama enjoys stronger support from women than Romney, while the reverse is true for male voters. Obama does better with minorities; Romney does best with whites.