In my previous two posts about the June 5th gubernatorial recall election, I was pretty blatantly suspicious of the results and the election count process (e.g. the GAB referring to AP for results but AP not posting them) – so much so that one reader called me out for making accusations of a conspiracy theory in my “Who Called the Wisconsin Recall Election” diary, and in my "GAB Certifies Recall Results...So where are they??? (Updated!)" diary pointing out that I had missed the very thing I was bitching about not finding in that post. [blushing] (HudsonValleyMark keeps me on my toes – and, admittedly – has taught me a couple things :) So, I will tread a little more lightly in this post as I continue my look at the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, attempting to not draw conclusions but to merely state my findings. You all can draw your own conclusions. ;) Please, read on…
In “Who Called the Wisconsin Recall Election”, I questioned the process by which the big recall election had been called. This is part of what I wrote:
According to this New York Times article, Edison Research (out of New Jersey) did the exit polling, which was provided to the National Election Pool. Wikipedia describes the NEP as “a consortium of American news organizations formed in 2003 to provide "information on Election Night about the vote count, election analysis and election projections." (Note:I was unable to find a web site or any physical location for the NEP). AP (our "official" unofficial source for election results) being a member of the NEP, gets its election poll information from NEP (see AP’s FAQ). Interestingly, according to that same Wikipedia article, the NEP relies on the Associated Press to perform vote tabulations" Isn’t that a nifty little loop for whomever they say won?But, as several people pointed out to me when I was going on and on about this, none of this really means anything because the AP (NEP) calling the election was merely a projection. Even the GAB (in their first two posts about the recall results) referred to the AP results as “unofficial”. Certainly, the April 2011 WI Supreme Court election (fiasco) is proof of that! So, what was I worried about…that six major corporations which basically control the majority of news was calling the shots?
Also interestingly, the other members of the NEP include: FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC. All the major networks and, as you probably know, the first four called the election for Walker almost simultaneously within an hour of the polls closing.
While I was waiting for the official results to come in – those being the ones I didn’t see and was whining about in "GAB Certifies Recall Results...So where are they??? (Updated!)", I decided to look at past elections. I started with that April 2011 WI Supreme Court fiasco (election) between Prosser and Kloppenburg. What I did was put the unofficial AP results next to the official GAB results, and what I found was what everyone knows: AP projected Kloppenburg the winner by 204 votes, but the official count by the GAB showed Prosser the winner by some 7316 votes. Kloppenburg, because of all the rumors of voting issues and irregularities, asked for a recount and the official results come back again in Prosser’s favor by 7004 votes. So basically, the first official GAB count was 17354 votes higher than the AP unofficial results, and the final count was 18408 higher. This, of course, helps to calm my worries about AP (NEP) calling elections: their “calls” are merely projections.
So then I decided to look at the 2010 gubernatorial election and do the same thing. I found lots of news sites with general results, but the only site I found that had county-by-county results (what I have been looking for) was Wikipedia – which used “Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections” as its source…which used the GAB as its source. Hence, the results matched exactly and there wasn’t much to look at there. I’m looking for election night results…the “projections” that keep us all glued to our TV’s and computers on election night. For whatever reason, AP – the official unofficial caller of important elections – did not seem to have an interest in the 2010 WI gubernatorial election, because (once again) I can’t find the same kind of county-by-county live results page as I was able to for the Prosser/Kloppenburg election, the August 9th and 11th senate recalls, and the recent June 5th recall elections (thanks to a reader!). However (interestingly), I was able to find AP results for the 2010 gubernatorial primary. Weird how they have results for the primary but not the general election...
If anyone knows where I can find it, please let me know...
Anyway, once I was done looking at all of those results – a very brief summary of which is coming up – I was finally able to check out the GAB-certified results from the June 5th recall election…and was I ever surprised at what I found. Unlike every other “AP election night results vs. GAB certified results” comparison from the elections listed above, which consistently showed AP with different (lower) results than the GAB, the June 5th recall election results from both sources – the unofficial AP election night results and the certified results from the GAB – were identical…right down the line. The only thing that will make the results different in the end are the new recount numbers from Racine County. The same is true of the CNN election night results.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t much, but I do find it...well, odd. AP projects winners based on partial information from a variety of sources, and their projections are always off from the certified results - by at least several thousand. To quote Emily Fredrix from AP:
“The AP calls races based on early vote returns provided by state and county elections offices, exit polls that conducted with voters and vote results from a random sample of precincts around the state. It's a complicated process that also compares the voting history of counties to make sure results are in line with past trends.”(Incidentally, that AP article - "How The Associated Press Calls Elections" - has been removed from several sites. You can read it in full on Huffington Post.)
And in the June 5th recall election for Scott Walker, those early vote returns and exit polls and vote results from random samples mashed all together in that complicated (secret) process spit out a projection that was nearly dead on with the official results...which makes me question even more who (really) called WI Recall Election on June 5th...(AP/NEP or the GAB)?