Don't Vote Until You Read This

Why an intense presidential election is just getting interesting.

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Facts can be slippery things, especially when it comes to politics and politicians. This campaign, with its unprecedented barrage of news coverage, video clips, bloggers, and E-mails, has also had an unprecedented collection of alleged facts flying through the ether. Policy pronouncements, position papers, numerical analyses all assertively making a case for one side or the other. And all lacking for the most part in what a reasonable person would call objective truth. How to keep up? What's real, and what's made up?

The special election guide is our attempt to freeze-frame the madness and sum up the state of play as we slide into what will surely be an unbearably intense finale to one of the most interesting and important elections in many years. We've taken a deep breath and a step back to lay out the issues and the personalities in a way that should help you make a decision. Admittedly, there's no science to this. The complexity and fluidity of the problems facing any president make it impossible to dissect proposed solutions with precision. We've been doing this for many years, and I have to tell you, it doesn't get any easier. But details aside, there are clear differences in the approach that each candidate takes, and we've laid those out as clearly as we can. We try to be skeptical but not cynical about the various promises.

Issues can also be overrated. I know that sounds like heresy, but sometimes it's not just about the facts; it's about the man. Or woman. How would someone deal with the known unknowns and the dreaded un known unknowns? Character matters, and so does biography, which is why we've tried over many months to report on who these people are. In the end, casting a vote is a gut-level decision that every citizen has to make independently. But like any good decision, it should be based on a combination of facts and instincts. A great many of those facts are in, but not all of them. As I said last month, I always wait until Election Day before I make up my mind. I know many of my fellow journalists have declared this race is over—some seem to have come to that conclusion a long time ago. But where's the fun in that? I think it's just getting interesting. I hope you do as well. Check back here often, as we'll be updating our coverage online until all the votes are in.

In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the 2008 presidential campaign and the coverage. Drop me an E-mail at editor@usnews.com, or join the real-time comments fray below.

—Brian Kelly