Don't Surrender to the Exit Polls

On Election Day 2004, Fox News analyst Susan Estrich said of the exit polling, "Either the exit polls by and large are completely wrong, or George Bush loses."

The exit polls were wrong.

Major media outlets learned a lesson in 2000, when unreliable exit polls by the Voter News Service caused a premature crowning of Al Gore as heir apparent to Speakeasy Bill. To fix the polling problem, FOX News, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and the Associated Press formed the National Election Pool and hired Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International to conduct exit polls for 2004 — which were again wrong.  Exit polling called both Florida and Ohio for Kerry.  Fortunately, the networks refrained from spreading the information, though bloggers weren’t as prudent.

Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International will again conduct the National Election Pool’s exit polls for the 2008 election. Apparently, the National Election Pool missed this year’s memo on “change.”

Consider these quotes from experts in a UK Guardian article online (posted Nov.4, 2004):

“Somebody should reassess exit polling. It’s useless." ~ CNN Republican pundit Tucker Carlson.

“Doing an early poll is like reporting the results of the game at halftime …You only have about a third of the information. No other survey research is held to that level of accuracy." ~ Joseph Lenski, who helped conduct the 2004 poll for the National Election Pool.

Bottom line: red, blue, or colorblind, don’t trust the exit polls. Treat them like meteorologists — listen to their forecast but be prepared for the opposite.

Remember, Barack Obama didn’t win his first political race in a blaze of revolutionary glory.  He didn’t win surrounded by masses of people heralding him the Messiah.  

He won on a voting technicality.

He’s going to play hardball till the final seconds of the game.

Conservatives, Republicans, “my friends” — don’t give up on your team at halftime. The exit polls won’t write the story. Your vote will.