After a mysterious two-week absence, America Online has restored its straw poll electoral map, which continues to show President Bush holding a commanding lead in the race for the White House.
The interactive survey, which allows AOL users to cast one vote each month for a presidential candidate, vanished at the start of October, leaving many suspicious as to the cause of its disappearance.
Among the letters from WorldNetDaily readers:
America Online insists the temporary disappearance had to do with technical issues, and not the results of the poll, which much of this year have shown Bush holding a large electoral lead over Democratic candidate John Kerry.
At the end of September, for instance, Bush had a 65-35 percentage lead in the popular vote over Kerry, with a whopping 535 electoral votes compared to just three for the Massachusetts senator.
“I can assure you – AOL News is very neutral,” said Brian Hoyt, senior communications manager for America Online. “I’ve been in their editorial meetings and they attempt to keep all news coverage up the middle, fair and balanced – and let our members be the ones to express their points of views in the message boards, polling or chat rooms.
“Operating the straw poll was not as simple as you might think from a technical standpoint. We were noticing that a lot of votes were simply not being registered in the right states (or buckets so to speak) – or at all. So, we pulled the straw poll to fix any glitches before the election. It is up now – but we are still monitoring it daily to see if votes are being registered this time once people voted.”
The poll is not a scientific survey, and someone with more than one screen name could cast more than one ballot, but such a technique is open to people of all political persuasions.
As of 6:30 p.m. tonight, AOL’s map shows Bush ahead in 41 states, collecting 399 electoral votes, well over the 270 needed to win. Kerry has just nine states plus the District of Columbia for a total of 139 electoral votes.
In terms of the popular vote, with more than 171,000 participants, Bush had 91,366 votes and Kerry took 78,770 – a seven-point margin of 53-46 percent.
Interestingly, a new Gallup poll released today for USA Today and CNN shows a similar eight-point lead for Bush at 52-44 percent among likely voters.
Another electoral map on the RealClearPolitics website also shows Bush with an electoral lead of 254-237, with at least five states considered toss-ups. That map is based on averages of scientific polls.
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