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View Diary: The Dummy's Guide to EXIT polls (48 comments)

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  •  The Source of the Misunderstanding (none)
    From the NEP FAQ:

    How are projections made?

    Projections are based on models that use votes from three (3) different sources -- exit poll interviews with voters, vote returns as reported by election officials from the sample precincts, and tabulations of votes by county. The models make estimates from all these vote reports.

    -----

    I've been baffled since the day after the elections that folks were convinced that the exit polls suggested fraud.  And I became ever more baffled as repeated debunkings failed to bring people around.

    I'm finally coming to the realization that it's lack of understanding of the above methodology that what makes folks unable to see what's going on here...

    •  I think one of the issues (none)
      is we see and have seen the networks project a winner as soon as the polls close, before any vote are tabulated. Not realizing that these states are well outside the margin of error ( blowout states) we have been conditioned (some of us since childhood) to accept the notion of the exit poll as gospel in ALL cases. From the little bit of research I did, I've gained a new respect for the potential limitations when doing it across a country as diverse as the US.
         With that being said, I'm still of the opinion that the exit poll data was skewing towards Kerry. Too many professionals were getting head fakes. Mitofsky and Edison had to have an late afternoon conference call warning people who do this for a living that there was a problem with the results and to exercise real caution with the numbers.
         The fact that no network made an incorrect call is not a testimonial to the accuracy of this particular exit polling exercise. This is the first year that these two particular firms have been running the process. ( Both companies have been in business a long time and Mitofsky himself is recognized as the 'father' of modern day exit polling, by way of clarification for others).
         When several seasoned reporters and editors who have had lots of experience with interpreting  and using exit polls had to change their leads, one is left to wonder how what in the data was reinforcing the sense that Kerry was headed to the presidency.
         FWIW, I think NEP needs to be more forthcoming with the data sets and use it as an education process for the American public and the media. It would go a long way to settling some controversies if there wasn't so much mystery surrounding what the numbers showed and when they showed it.

      Moderation, the noblest gift of heaven. - Euripedes

      by recentdemocrat on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 06:53:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: I think one of the issues (none)
        "With that being said, I'm still of the opinion that the exit poll data was skewing towards Kerry. Too many professionals were getting head fakes. Mitofsky and Edison had to have an late afternoon conference call warning people who do this for a living that there was a problem with the results and to exercise real caution with the numbers."

        Yup.  The pre-mixed data was skewing Kerry, and NEP told their clients.

        But the pre-mixed data tends to be unreliable every year.

        And as far as the talking heads getting the head fakes, that has more to do with the fact that they're not up to speed on the details of how the Mitofsky methodology works - kinda like all the folks around here who still think those pre-mixed numbers indicate fraud or irregularities.

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