I’ve seen it tossed around that Kerry did 5% better or so in the exit polls than in the actual tally. (I forget what the actual number is, but it was a not insignificant figure, if a little low.) Assuming that it’s NOT the result of fraud, does this mean we should ignore (or at least take with a grain of salt) exit polls tomorrow? With both the past two elections giving exit polling a black eye, and some Republicans wanting to screw with it by claiming to be Democrats, and the fact that anyone can say anything they want for any reason to the exit pollster, are they really something we should put a lot of belief into?
When a majority of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and FOX call a state for a particular candidate, most of the time you can be reasonably confident that they’re right. Florida 2000 is the only time I remember them taking a state “off the board” after making the call. I’m expecting a reasonably long night regardless of the outcome.
We may not know the winner tonight. Networks are going to be careful, they don’t want to make another mistake, so some states may not get called until fairly late. I’ll be interested to see how many “voting irregularities” are reported, where, and by whom…
Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com said they were junk. The reasons he gave is that they skewed Democratic and they weren’t representative samples. That seems pretty logical to me. Exit polls are designed to be used in conjunction with actual election results anyway. They aren’t supposed to be used to predict the outcome as far as I know. I remember last election and the primaries, Drudge would put up some weird exit poll number that eventually were off by a few percent.
So I guess the answer is no.
I also saw his interview on Olbermann tonight. So what’s the point wasting one’s time during a perfectly good day just to hear exit poll numbers that don’t mean squat? Catch the actual results as they come in.
I have to agree with Nate Silver that the exit polls were junk. One thing I noticed through all the hubbub about Ohio was that a whole bunch of polls were off, most of them showing higher Kerry numbers than the vote count. I guarantee the exit polls will be off today too, Obama supporters are eager beavers and will jump at the chance to be counted. McCain voters are supportive, I can easily see them skipping the exit poll more often than an Obama supporter.
Wait for the actual results to come in, and expect McCain to get more votes in the evening than he gets in the morning.
So… while I waited for my parents to finish voting tonight, I ended up near the people doing the exit polling. They said they were supposed to poll every 8th person, but I watched, and they didn’t. I’m not even talking about some people refusing, either, but there were a few times where 9 or 10 people got by without them even asking for participation. It doesn’t seem like they’re very stringent…
Exit polling is very good. In some countries it has been used to throw out elections. Our government and the UN trusts it to verify elections. In the US we have added a lot more data in the last couple elections. It is very accurate.