Ooops. I meant to mention Mike Crowley's entertaining New Republic piece on the polling wars. It's a fun, breezy read that's well worth your time:
Overall, response rates have been declining for years. And, this season, race and gender have added tricky new variables. In short, Leve's success is hard to explain-- affirming a postmodern sense that methodology no longer ensures accuracy more than instinct and dumb luck. The irony is that this perception, one that critics use to deride polling, is now widespread even among pollsters themselves.
Leve has none of this sentimentality for his own industry. In fact, he can be downright dismissive of our national obsession with polling. When a surprising number appears in the news, he says, he often fields calls from his excitable mother. "I pick up the phone and she says, 'Hey, I just heard-- McCain's now in front!' I say, 'Mom, ignore it!' I often tell people to pay no attention whatsoever. There are an awful lot of numbers coming out that mean absolutely nothing."
Indeed so. Whole thing here.