This is what happens when—devoid of reliable polling—political reporting is governed by instinct, hunch and whispered campaign plane conversations. Maybe there is romance in resisting the gimlet-eyed clarity of regression analyses of the state surveys. But given a choice of a campaign shaped by polls or one in which reporters try to divine the sentiments of the voters through the size and enthusiasm of crowds, please sign me for Politics 2012.

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Walter Shapiro just chronicled his ninth presidential campaign. He writes the “Character Sketch” political column for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter @WalterShapiroPD.