I suspect that among Romans there was as much skepticism about the predictive power of bird guts as, in our saner moments, we entertain about polls. Deep down, we know they are flawed. But polls have this great advantage: by pretending to tell us what will happen, they can create the currents of sentiment that build momentum. Momentum creates inertia. Inertia, as Newton saw, has the aura of inevitably. Hope becomes father to the deed.