POLLSTERS CAN EXHALE…. The presidential election offered a test for a lot of institutions, but professional pollsters had to realize that if Barack Obama came up short last night, not only would Americans question pollsters forever more, but we would probably start to look askance at the very idea of random statistical sampling.

As it turns out, they can relax.

The final Pollster.com report on the national popular vote showed Obama leading with 52% support. Based on the results that are currently available, Obama won with 52% support.

Indeed, looking over that interactive map that some of us have been obsessing over for quite a while, the polling averages really didn’t get any states wrong at all. Arguably, the only state where the numbers were really off base was North Dakota, which turned out to be less competitive than expected, but that’s a pretty inconsequential demerit in an otherwise impressive showing.

I’d add, by the way, that the final DailyKos/Research 2000 poll showed Obama leading McCain nationally 51% to 46%, while the final Rasmussen poll showed Obama up 52% to 46%. Both can take a bow not only for having nailed the final result, but also for beating their rivals.

And speaking of polls and impressive showings, how did Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight do? Nate’s final projections showed Obama winning with 348 electoral votes and 52.3% of the popular vote. As of this morning’s count, Obama has 349 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote.

We’re going to wonder how we got through elections without him.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.