Polling systems have been used to model a large variety of applications and much research has been devoted to the derivation of efficient algorithms for computing the delay measures in these systems. Recent research efforts in this area, which have focused on the optimization of these systems, have raised the need for very efficient such algorithms. This work develops the descendant set approach as a general efficient algorithm for deriving all moments of customer delay (in particular, mean delay) in these systems. The method is applied to a very large variety of model variations, including: 1) The exhaustive and gated service policies, 2) Fractional service policies, 3) The cyclic visit order, 4) Arbitrary periodic visit orders (polling tables), and 5) Customer routing. For most of these variations the method significantly outperforms the algorithms commonly used today.