It is the worst of times. It is the worst of times. It is the season of darkness. The midterm elections are tomorrow (!), and people insist on continuing (!!) to emit polls that are telling us things with degrees of certainty.

The only lesson I have retained from 2016 is that there is no such thing as certainty of any shape or form. Nothing is knowable, and we drift blindly through a void of insufficient information, and the birds whose entrails Nate Silver alone can read and interpret do not have reliable entrails.

In accordance with this philosophy, here is a guide to what the polls mean, as far as I can understand them.

Candidate A is up by 5 points: No one can know anything about who will win this race, and we are fools to presume. Go vote! Go register to vote! Beat down the doors of strangers! Weep, fall on your knees, plead with them! It is not too late!

Candidate A is up by 5 points (margin of error ± 5 pts.): POLL, YOU HAVE TOLD US NOTHING. You are bad and you ought to feel bad! Go home and think about what you have done.

Candidate A has a 4-in-5 chance of victory: Until the actual moment of election, you can rest confident in the knowledge that Candidate A will surely prevail and Candidate B’s election is unlikely, but then, of course, Candidate B will win, and you will never know peace again.

The needle is pointing blue: This sign is meaningless, and we cannot rest until we have seen and counted each ballot by hand! I ABJURE YOU, FALSE SOOTHSAYER! Do not taunt me with these phantoms!

Deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus and columnist Megan McArdle go head-to-head on a radical idea for more civic engagement. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Democrats have a 7-in-8 chance of retaking the House: It is impossible to say who will retake the house until Wolf Blitzer is standing in front of a glowing blue map holding a result in his hand, and it is best not to anger the gods with your hubris.

Republicans have a 1-in-8 chance of keeping the House: Republicans will almost certainly keep the House.

This seat is a toss-up: Why would you even tell me this, poll?

This seat is likely Democratic: This seat, this taunting tempter, will whisper hope to you and then DASH THAT HOPE, DASH IT TO BITS!

This seat leans Republican: One thing we can say about this seat is that it will definitely be colored pink on a map for a period of time.

Exit polls show…: Maybe by attempting to measure things we are altering them. Maybe we shouldn’t measure anything. Maybe it is already too late….

This seat is safely red: I believe that quantum physics states that if you run into a wall enough times, statistically, one of those times the particles of the wall will align in such a way that you are able to pass through the wall! It’s worth a try!

This seat is safely blue: NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS SAFE.

It is more likely that A will occur than that B will occur: I have taken this to mean that “A will surely happen; there is no chance of B,” and will be upset if you tell me that it means anything different.

It all comes down to turnout: The candidate who wins will be the one who gets the most votes. If more people show up to vote for that candidate than show up to vote for the other candidate, that candidate will win!

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