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Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:12 PM

Voter Suppression and Exit Poll Discrepancies in the Democratic Primaries

Voter Suppression

Insufficient polling places in Maricopa County
In this Tuesday’s Arizona Democratic primary, Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, reduced the number of polling places open compared to 2012 from over 200 to 60. Consequently, people spent entire work days waiting in line to vote, as voting lines stretched for over half a mile. Undoubtedly, many of them had to leave before voting, in order to avoid missing work, which I’m sure many of them could ill afford. The County recorder justified this blatant incident of voter suppression by claiming that “turnout is traditionally low” in Maricopa County. CBS reporter Joe Dana put this incident in perspective: the “2012 primary had 300,000 voters and 200 polling places. 2016 primary had 800,000 voters at 60 polling places. Polling places in densely populated Latino neighborhoods were particular targets for closure.

Numerous Democrats in AZ were mistakenly listed as independents
Consequently, because independents are not allowed to vote in the AZ primary, these voters were not allowed to vote. I don’t know the details of this issue. Were these recently independent voters who joined the Democratic Party close to the date of the primary in order to cast their vote for one of the candidates? (a perfectly legal thing to do). In any event, this mistake was never rectified.

Arizona was called for Clinton while people were still waiting in line to vote
Because of all the delays, many people were still in line waiting to vote when Arizona was called early for Clinton, with 1% of the vote in. A declaration of victory while people are waiting to vote is likely to discourage many people from voting.

Why does voter suppression hurt Sanders?
One might think that voter suppression in a party primary would not necessarily favor one candidate or the other. Of course, that all depends on whether or not the suppression was targeted at one candidate or the other. At this time I know of no good evidence that shows that to be the case.

However, one thing that must be considered is that, in general, any across the board voter suppression favors Clinton over Sanders. The reason for that is that Clinton did far better than Sanders across the board, in early voting, compared to Election Day voting, which took place largely when Bernie Sanders was hardly known to voters.

Consider Arizona, where voter suppression was especially marked. The election was called for Clinton with only 1% of the vote in, when she was ahead by a margin of 61.5% to 36.1%. All of that total reflected early voting. Yet, with 17% of the vote in (I don’t have later data on this), Sanders was leading Clinton in Election Day voting, by a small amount. Thus, any voter suppression would elevate the importance of early voting in determining the final statewide results and thus affect the delegate count in favor of the candidate who did better in early voting.

Conclusion on voter suppression
We don’t know for sure that the voter suppression in Arizona (and Ohio, where many voting precincts ran out of ballots before the polls closed and caused many potential voters to lose their chance to vote) was targeted at one candidate or the other. But to think that voter suppression didn’t happen in Arizona, where the most populous county in the state reduced the number of polling places from 200 to 60 and ended up with voting lines half a mile long, sounds naïve to me. This kind of thing begs for an investigation, aimed at discovering the cause and preventing future episodes during this primary season. Therefore, please consider signing this petition to the White House requesting that these episodes be investigated promptly.


Exit poll discrepancies

Background: The great exit poll discrepancy controversy of the 2004 Presidential Election
Those of you who spent much time on DU during the 2004 Presidential election and the months and years that followed will remember the great exit poll discrepancy of 2004, in which, according to national exit polls John Kerry won the national vote, whereas George W. Bush won the national vote according to the official vote count. The difference between the exit polls and the official vote count was about 4%. The difference was particularly great in the important swing states, where slight differences in the vote count might make a difference between winning and losing. But there was only one state where it did make a difference, and that was Ohio, where the exit poll discrepancy was over 6%. Ohio would have given the election to John Kerry.

Further investigations found numerous anomalies in Ohio, and eventually a mass of evidence was accumulated that made it highly probable, if not certain, to make a long story short, that the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio was electronically manipulated to give the election to Bush (and there was massive evidence of voter suppression as well). I wrote many DU posts on these issues at the time, but I think that perhaps the best summary I wrote of the evidence for electronic manipulation in Ohio occurred many years later, when Bush was no longer president, in this post.

Yet through all the massive discussion of this issue on DU and other left leaning websites, not a word of it was even mentioned by our national news media, except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Instead, our national news media presented us with “adjusted” exit polls, meaning exit polls that were adjusted to fit the officially reported vote count. One could attribute benign or malignant motives to this omission. My own personnel viewpoint is somewhere in between, but leaning to malignant motives. The benign explanation is that our national news media merely assumes that when there is a discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote count, the exit polls must be wrong, because it is unthinkable that the discrepancy, no matter how large, could represent manipulation of the vote count, by electronic voting machines or otherwise.

Yet almost all other democracies in the world take exit polls much more seriously than we do in the United States, and in fact use them to help in assessing the validity of the official vote count. When there is a large discrepancy, in which the official count favors one candidate and the exit polls favor the other, the issue is investigated, and sometimes the official count is reversed, based on the results of the investigation. In the United States, not only do we not do that, but the issue is never even mentioned.

I acknowledge that there can be some bias in exit polls. But they are far more accurate than pre-election polls, for several reasons: 1) They assess whom the voter actually voted for, rather than whom he or she intends to vote for at some later date; 2) Pre-election polls use models that estimate which poll respondents are likely to vote in an election, based on data from previous elections. These models may or may not accurately apply to the current election. To the extent that they don’t apply, the results can be substantially biased; 3) The accuracy of pre-election polls depends on obtaining a representative sample of voters for the poll. That is no simple matter. One very large potential source of error is that voters who use cell phones rather than land lines may be grossly under-represented in pre-election polls. This kind of problem is almost totally eradicated by exit polls. Exit polls are taken of voters as they leave their polling places. It doesn’t depend on telephones or other overly complicated sampling methods.

Exit poll discrepancies in the 2016 Democratic primaries
I first became concerned about this issue in 2016 by means of an article on the 538 website, written on Tuesday, March 15, as Democratic primaries were underway in 5 states (OH, NC, FL, MO, IL). I don’t recall the exact words used in the article, but the writer commented on what appeared to be substantial discrepancies between exit polls and official vote counts in some of the states, especially Ohio, where the official vote count favored Clinton over Sanders, compared to the exit polls. He said he couldn’t understand the discrepancies, and he concluded by saying something like, well, maybe when the full counts are in those discrepancies will go away.

Consequently, upon reading about the voter suppression in Arizona, and recalling the discussion on the 538 website about the likely exit poll discrepancies, I tried to find results of the exit polls and compare them with the official vote counts. I wasn’t able to find results of exit polls for the states that voted this Tuesday, but here is what I found for some of the most recently voting states (results represent percent shares of votes between the two major candidates):

Massachusetts
Exit polls (preliminary results): Sanders +6.6
Official count: Clinton +1.4
Difference: 8.0 in favor of Clinton (compared to exit poll)

Michigan
Exit polls: Sanders +6.4
Official count: Sanders +1.6
Difference: 4.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Ohio
Exit polls: Clinton +3.8
Official count: Clinton +14.0
Difference: 10.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Florida
Exit polls: Clinton +28.0
Official count: Clinton +31.2
Difference: 3.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

North Carolina
Exit polls: Clinton +12.6
Official count: Clinton +14.4
Difference: 1.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Illinois
Exit polls: Sanders +2.4
Official count: Clinton +1.8
Difference: 4.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Missouri
Exit polls: Sanders +3.8
Official count: Clinton + 0.2
Difference: 4.0 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

In other words, there were substantial exit poll discrepancies in all 7 of these states, favoring Clinton in the official count in each one, compared to the exit polls. These discrepancies are in general larger even than we saw in the 2004 Presidential Election that DU and some other websites spent so much time discussing. As in 2004, we hear nothing of this from our national news media – all we get from them is “adjusted” exit polls, adjusted to perfectly fit the official vote count. If the exit polls are in fact an accurate measure of who actually received the most votes in these states, Sanders would have won 4 of them instead of just one, and he also would have received more delegates in each of the others.

I don’t know what to do about this, and I am not blaming Hillary Clinton. But she has some mighty powerful supporters in this election, including the financial industry. My intention in posting this is to give DU members a better understanding of a potentially very serious problem.

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply Voter Suppression and Exit Poll Discrepancies in the Democratic Primaries (Original post)
Time for change Mar 2016 OP
Faux pas Mar 2016 #1
giftedgirl77 Mar 2016 #2
Time for change Mar 2016 #5
ViseGrip Mar 2016 #26
Time for change Mar 2016 #10
NowSam Mar 2016 #27
onecaliberal Mar 2016 #3
bkkyosemite Mar 2016 #4
AzDar Mar 2016 #6
Maedhros Mar 2016 #7
jillan Mar 2016 #8
Time for change Mar 2016 #22
Segami Mar 2016 #9
Uncle Joe Mar 2016 #11
Scuba Mar 2016 #12
TheProgressive Mar 2016 #13
Dont call me Shirley Mar 2016 #14
denverbill Mar 2016 #15
Time for change Mar 2016 #16
Waiting For Everyman Mar 2016 #17
whirlygigspin Mar 2016 #34
bkscribe Mar 2016 #18
Time for change Mar 2016 #19
Wilms Mar 2016 #20
bkscribe Mar 2016 #21
PufPuf23 Mar 2016 #23
Time for change Mar 2016 #24
Retrograde Mar 2016 #25
vkkv Mar 2016 #28
uponit7771 Mar 2016 #29
TexasTowelie Mar 2016 #30
Time for change Mar 2016 #32
me b zola Mar 2016 #31
felix_numinous Mar 2016 #33

Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:14 PM

1. Kick!!!

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:15 PM

2. When did blogs become reliable sources?

 

My buddy Thom said that HRC is a doo doo head & here's his poll to prove it.

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:25 PM

5. Since unadjusted exit poll discrepancies are not reported by official sources

often the only way to obtain them is through blogs.

If you know of any better available sources for unadjusted exit polls in the Democratic primaries in the states I included in the OP or any other states, please let us know.

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Response to Time for change (Reply #5)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:11 PM

26. I salute Susan Truitt, John Bonafaz, David Cobb, Clint Curtis, etc. They are not blogs

 

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:28 PM

10. I should add

In 2004, the only reason that we knew about the exit poll discrepancies was that two vigilant U.S. citizens took screen shots of them late on Election Night, before they disappeared forever from public view. That was Jonathon Simon and Stephen Freeman.

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:11 PM

27. Blogs became more reliable when m$m

Became such obvious shills.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:18 PM

3. Thanks for this.

Kick&Rec

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:23 PM

4. Very informative thank you for all your work.

The system is rigged.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:25 PM

6. K & R

 

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:25 PM

7. The exit polls are troubling.

 

When the U.S. monitors elections abroad, discrepancies between the election results and the exits polls are considered by our State Department to be the best indicator of electoral manipulation.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:26 PM

8. There are exit polls somewhere from Az, I cannot find them either BUT on Tues I was driving around

most of the day between voting and canvassing... the radio was reporting that exit polls were showing a Sanders & Cruz win.

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Response to jillan (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:10 PM

22. If what you heard is correct

the exit poll discrepancy in Arizona would be huge, again favoring Clinton in the official count.

If anyone has exit polls data from Arizona, or any other state I've omitted, please let us know.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:27 PM

9. Kick for exposure.

 

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:30 PM

11. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, Time for change.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:31 PM

12. You dirty hippies want everything - unicorns, rainbows and fair elections. Stop dreaming.

 

Signed: Member of the Reality Based Community.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:33 PM

13. 'Funny' how all the discrepancies favor Clinton...

 

Ok, I'l say it... When all the voting problems favor one candidate - it' election fraud and
you got to look at Clinton/DNC as the source.

We all know that there is voter suppression and election fraud in America. The republicans
always benefit from this fraud. Third-way Democrats, for some reason, *never* do anything about it (as
in legislation to address it).

Of course, the oligarchy does not care who wins the presidency as long
as it is Trump (or any other republicans) or Clinton - no difference to them.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:37 PM

14. Voter Suppression. Election Fraud. Paul Weyrich has now found its way into DLC...

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:38 PM

15. In 2004, remember how long lines were a problem?

Republicans limited voting machines in Democratic strongholds and thousands of people weren't able to vote. Reminds me a lot of the AZ primary.

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Response to denverbill (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:48 PM

16. I sure do remember that

And the state with the biggest problem in that area of all was Ohio, which determined the election for Bush -- and was considered prior to the election to be the state most likely to make a difference in the Electoral College.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:50 PM

17. Do I believe that coincidence covers that? Nope.

My hope is, that she will get over-confident and go a step too far, and get caught red-handed.

In case anyone hasn't seen this...



Thank you, Time for change, for some very good work putting this together!

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Response to Waiting For Everyman (Reply #17)

Fri Mar 25, 2016, 05:53 AM

34. oh god, that reminds me of Andy

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:53 PM

18. kick

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:53 PM

19. I forgot to mention

Bernie is doing much better in voting districts that hand count their ballots rather than use electronic machines to do it.

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Response to Time for change (Reply #19)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:00 PM

20. That's the one that's bugging me pretty good.

 

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Response to Wilms (Reply #20)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:09 PM

21. Ya...

Could be that those are just more rural areas, but someone should definitely look into it.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:21 PM

23. Thank you. Good to see you posting at DU TFC kr

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Response to PufPuf23 (Reply #23)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:26 PM

24. Thanks, good to see you too.

I feel like this is the most important primary election I ever voted in.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:57 PM

25. Has anyone here ever been polled after casting a vote?

I never saw any pollsters back when I cast my votes in person - as of about 8 years ago - and they certainly don't hang around the local mailbox waiting for me to send in my ballot.

With the increase in mail and early voting, I expect the exit polls to skew more and more towards the people who vote on election day itself, which seems to be people who can't make up their minds, or are new to voting. That may be one reason why an exit poll leans towards Sanders whereas when all the ballots are counted the early and mail ballots give Clinton the edge.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:15 PM

28. Scary stuff.. sad.

 


I want my country back.


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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:19 PM

29. WOW... wide spread voter fraud!! Need voter IDs hunh? ... sigh... jus sad... sigh

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:28 PM

30. Some of the possible reasons why there is a discrepancy

between the exit polls and the actual results is that the exit polls do not include early voters or absentee ballots. From a demographic perspective those that vote early tend to be more elderly which favors Clinton while younger voters that favor Sanders tend to vote on the day of the election. This effect could easily skew the results a few percentage points so a five point shift isn't out of the question and could easily fall within the margin of error based upon the sample size.

The larger shifts in Massachusetts and Ohio are more suspicious, but the methodology of the polls could also come into play. Were there adjustments made for location of the voters? If the polling occurred near colleges then it would over-represent Sanders compared locations that would favor Clinton. The organization conducting the polling may have unerringly injected a bias within the polling based on unaccounted factors.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #30)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:54 PM

32. Exit pollsters have methods for obtaining a representative sample of voters

The polling isn't limited to particular places, and I'm sure they have methods to figure in the early voting.

It isn't perfect, and as I said in the OP, there may be some bias. But for the reasons I stated, the bias should be far less bias than is seen in pre-election polls.

As I said in the OP, the 538 website remarked, as the results of the elections were coming in on March 15, on the apparently large discrepancy between the Ohio exit polls and the results coming in. At that time they were well aware of the results of the early voting, and surely wouldn't have made such a statement without taking the results of the early voting into account in the exit polls.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 05:34 PM

31. K&R

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Fri Mar 25, 2016, 03:08 AM

33. K&R

and great to see you.

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