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Reply #5: Charles Cook on exit polls [View All]

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Febble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-14-07 02:33 AM
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5. Charles Cook on exit polls
If you had worked with exit polls in the past, as I have fat a network (first CBS, more recently NBC) or every election since 1990, you would find the suggestion that they can be used to check the accuracy of vote counts totally ridiculous. Network exit polls were never designed to predict the outcome of close races, they can't. no survey is that close. If the outcome of a Senate race, for example, isn't so clear than you can know who will probably win by reading the previous week's Time or Newsweek, then an exit poll won't help.

Exit polls were designed primarily to give journalists a tool to describe who did what. How did whites, blacks, hispanics, men, women, union memmbers, consevatives, housewives, whatever, how they voted and ask why they voted the way you do.

the people using this exit poll/vote count disparity argument don't know jack about exit polls. I purposefully don't look at or listen to any exit poll data until late afternoon on election day (I stayed away from NBC until 5:00pm in 2004 and deliberately did not read any emails or engage in any conversations about exit polls all day, thus didn't allow how the stuff that you guys got all excited about pollute my thinking on election night.

The only races that networks use exit polls to predict are the slam dunks, they use them to confirm that the landslide wins expected are in fact landslide wins of the magnitude anticipated before the election. If the exit poll in Indiana shows that Dick Lugar will win by a margin comparable to what was expected, then they can call it at poll closing time. If the exit poll suggests that he isn't winning by something close to that, he won't. But only used to confirm the no-brainer races. That's it. And don't use the "U.S. State Department recomends the use of exit polls to confirm elections in other countries" argument, because I don't know or care what the U.S. State Department says or does about elections, since that is not their area of expertise.
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