Just a reminder: The exit polls can’t be trusted

posted at 12:45 pm on November 3, 2008 by Allahpundit

For a simple reason: They oversample Democrats, and are even more likely to do so this year thanks to enthusiasm among The One’s cultists. Per Geraghty, 77 percent of Obama’s supporters say they’re willing to spend 10 minutes answering an exit poll questionnaire versus just 64 percent of McCain’s. No matter what’s happening on the ground, then, expect The One to have a large-ish lead when the data finally drops at 5 p.m. tomorrow. If he doesn’t, things could get interesting.

Even the networks don’t trust them in isolation anymore:

[T]he networks now follow strict rules that govern projections, examining not only exit poll data but actual vote tabulation and turnout information. NBC — which keeps its decision desk isolated from the calls made by competing networks — will only call a winner once its statisticians conclude that the chance of an error is less than 1 in 200. And no calls will be made until all the polls have closed in a state…

[E]xit polls are designed to provide a demographic portrait of voters, not to predict the winner of a close race. The early waves of data can be especially misleading because they do not necessarily reflect an accurate sample of the electorate.

This year, there’s another factor to take into account: the huge surge in early voting. To get a measurement of those voters, Edison/Mitofsky has been doing an extensive telephone survey in the last week, focusing on the 18 states with the highest concentration of absentee and early voting.

For all the precautions, the networks’ decision desks will still be analyzing the exit poll with some wariness. In both 2004 and 2006, the polls overstated the Democratic vote in many states. Because of that, Fox News stopped relying on the data halfway through election night in 2006, declaring it unreliable.

A similar problem cropped up during this year’s primaries, when exit polls often showed a greater lead for Sen. Barack Obama than the actual vote, decision desk directors said.

The exit polling firm’s being sequestered until the fateful hour — no cell phones or Blackberries allowed — so if you see a “leak” somewhere on the ‘Net in the early afternoon hours, “Don’t be hoodwinked. Don’t be bamboozled. Don’t fall for the okey-doke.” If you missed yesterday’s post about poll closings, read it now for scheduling purposes. First-round games in Indiana and Virginia begin at 7 p.m., followed by Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Queasy on November 3, 2008 at 1:29 PM

You’ve got Fallout 3? Any good? :p

Fortunata on November 3, 2008 at 2:18 PM

Just a quick reminder for those of you worried about the predictive ability of Intrade: In the New Hampshire primary, they had Obama 99 vs 1 for Hillary.

Also, according to InTrade, Sarah Palin had no chance of being picked as McCain’s VP.

Gina on November 3, 2008 at 2:25 PM

fox poll/ McCain up in NC, FL, OH down in CO and VA

unseen on November 3, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Please read this one folks:




Mark Garnett on November 3, 2008 at 2:29 PM

The only polls that matter are those of the Supreme Court!

PeteTheFloridian on November 3, 2008 at 2:30 PM


Hummmmmmmmm, rookie mistake, here’s the link…


Mark Garnett on November 3, 2008 at 2:30 PM

The exit polls should not be publicized until all the states in the same Time Zone have closed their polls. Actually, I would prefer that they not be used at all, as they must skew voter intentions in states further to the west.
They are likely useless for predicting actual votes, but extremely useful in influencing those yet to vote.
Polls are not to gather opinion, but rather to change it.


tomw on November 3, 2008 at 2:40 PM

I’ve been polled, twice. I lied both times, saying I was voting for 0bama. I know I’m not the only one.

TeeDee on November 3, 2008 at 3:10 PM

The fact that they oversample libtards is why libtards trust them so much.

Speedwagon82 on November 3, 2008 at 3:12 PM

TeeDee on November 3, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Dude, that’s not helpful

Dudley Smith on November 3, 2008 at 3:55 PM

Anther problem with exit polls: most of them are taken in metropolitan urban areas, which would most likely result in over-sampling pro-Obama precincts. Think about it. I live in a more rural area, and there are no exit pollers around here. Perhaps it is because I am in Texas, not known to be a battleground state – and maybe some of you from rural PA, OH, FL, or other states could post some info about this.

Cindy of TX on November 3, 2008 at 4:04 PM

Last time, I went out shopping after voting so I missed the doom and gloom exit polling. I plan to do the same this year and not turn the web or TV on ’till 7pm (CST). Hopefully, by that time, everything will be looking rosy for Mac!

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on November 3, 2008 at 4:13 PM

I thing the lamestream media will be going all out on a last ditch effort to save obama.

My wife, son and I will be working the polls as much as possible tomorrow for McCain-Palin and our congressional candidate.. Our son is too young to vote.

The margin is there for McCain.

For some stupid reason I have this thought going through my head that Obama will only win 8 states. When McCain wins, hunker down folks.

I really want to see McCain-Palin win along with Murtha getting humiliated and Franken looking like a todal t*rd.


bullseye on November 3, 2008 at 8:05 PM