As Jesse at Pandagon notes, even though the presidential race is stagnant in that the numbers aren’t shifting much, that’s not the same as the race being in a dead heat. This would be obvious, if your typical political reporter wasn’t a mathematically illiterate moron.
Yes, I know that there’s only one poll that matters and it’s in November, blah, blah, blah. But based on the available poll data, there’s no way this is a dead heat. Why? Because, in 40 out of 41 polls since Clinton dropped out of the race, Obama has led McCain. If they truly were in a dead heat (i.e., 50/50), the probability that McCain would lead in fewer than two polls out of 41 is 0.00000000190993887372% (for those of you who like p-values, p = 0.0000000000190993887372).
To break the p = 0.05 threshold–that is, for the probability that McCain would lead in less than two out of 41 polls by chance to exceed five percent, Obama would be leading McCain 89% to 11% (even with that lopsided result, there would be a 94.9% chance that this observation is not due to randomness).
Someday, we will have a political press corps that is mathematically literate. And then I will have a magic pony.