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2004 Exit Polling

Early Exit Polls In 2004 Showed Kerry Winning The Presidency In 2004, The Kerry Campaign Saw A Stunning Victory Due To Early Exit Polling. There was a buoyant feeling in John Kerry's presidential campaign Tuesday afternoon and a sinking sense of doom in President Bush's camp as they pored over early exit poll data. Kerry's people saw a stunning victory: The early polls seemed to verify the anticipated surge in the number of newly registered 18- to 29-year-old voters casting ballots and heavy turnout among women, key ingredients in Kerry's recipe for winning the White House. (William Douglas, Exit Polls Gave Kerry An Erroneous Early Boost, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 11/4/04) Exit Polls Strongly, And Erroneously, Suggested Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry Was Going To The White House. Even as the presidential campaign ended with a triumph for President Bush on Wednesday, armchair strategists and capital insiders were still scratching their heads over exit poll results on Tuesday that strongly, and erroneously, suggested Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry was going to the White House. (Nick Anderson and Faye Fiore, Early Data For Kerry Proved Misleading, Los Angeles Times, 11/4/04) The Presumption Of A Kerry Victory Built A Head Of Steam Late In The Day, When The National Survey Showed The Senator With A Statistically Significant Lead, One Falling Outside The Survey's Margin Of Error. (Jim Rutenberg, Report Says Problems Led To Skewed Surveying Data, The New York Times, 11/5/04) The Exit Polls Didnt Reflect Reality Exit Polls Fail To Capture The True Overall Shape Of The Electorate And Can Magnify Distortions, Particularly In A Close, Volatile Election. Often exit polls, which are conducted quickly with a relatively small sampling of voters, fail to capture the true overall shape of the electorate. In addition, the tight time frames can magnify distortions, especially in samplings taken early in the day, before a full spectrum of voters has been measured. This is especially true in a close, volatile election.
(Nick Anderson and Faye Fiore, Early Data For Kerry Proved Misleading, Los Angeles Times, 11/4/04)

2004 Exit Polls Included Too Many Women, Too Few Westerners, Not Enough Republicans And A Lead For Democratic Presidential Nominee John F. Kerry. On Tuesday, new problems surfaced: a 21/2-hour data blackout and samples that at one point or another included too many women, too few Westerners, not enough Republicans and a lead for Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry in the national survey that persisted until late in the evening. (Richard Morin, New Woes Surface In Use Of Estimates, The Washington
Post, 11/4/04)

The 2004 Exit Polls More Frequently Overstated Support For Mr. Kerry And Had The Biggest Partisan Skew Since At Least 1988. The report also theorized that the poll results more frequently overstated support for Mr. Kerry than for President Bush because the Democratic nominee's supporters were more open to pollsters. Whatever the case, according to the report, the surveys had the biggest partisan skew since at least 1988, the earliest election the report tracked. (Jim Rutenberg, Report Says Problems Led
To Skewed Surveying Data, The New York Times, 11/5/04)

Pollsters Could Not Get Close Enough To The Polls To Collect Adequate Samples Of Voters Opinion And Were Often Stopped By Legal Barriers Devised To Keep People Electioneering. In some cases, the report said, survey takers could not get close enough to the polls to collect adequate samples of voters opinion. They were often stopped by legal barriers devised to keep people electioneering - not necessarily bona fide poll canvassers - away from voters. (Jim Rutenberg, Report Says Problems
Led To Skewed Surveying Data, The New York Times, 11/5/04)

Interviewing In Precincts Where Polltakers Were Required To Stand Farther Away From The Polls Were Less Accurate Than Those Where Interviewers Had Easier Access To Voters Leaving The Polling Places. (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Report Acknowledges Inaccuracies In 2004 Exit Polls, The
Washington Post, 1/20/05)

Exits Polls Were Conducted Quickly With A Relatively Small Sampling Of Voters And Treated By Some Who Received It As The Equivalent Of A Full-Scale Poll. The problem Tuesday arose when the raw exit poll data were treated by some who received it as the equivalent of a full-scale poll, without considering its limitations. Often exit polls, which are conducted quickly with a relatively small sampling of voters, fail to capture the true overall shape of the electorate. (Nick Anderson and Faye Fiore, Early Data For Kerry
Proved Misleading, Los Angeles Times, 11/4/04)

The 2004 Exit Polls Were The Most Inaccurate Of Any In The Past Five Presidential Elections Because Of Procedural Problems And The Refusal Of Large Numbers Of Republican Voters To Be Surveyed. Interviewing for the 2004 exit polls was the most inaccurate of any in the past five presidential elections as procedural problems compounded by the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed led to inflated estimates of support for John F. Kerry, according to a report released yesterday by the research firms responsible for the flawed surveys. (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Report
Acknowledges Inaccuracies In 2004 Exit Polls, The Washington Post, 1/20/05)

According To A Report By Joe Lenski And Warren Mitofsky, The Error In Exit Polling Was Most Likely Due To Kerry Voters Participating In The Exit Polls At A Higher Rate Than Bush Voters. Our investigation of the differences between the exit poll estimates and the actual vote count point to one primary reason: in a number of precincts a higher than average within-precinct error most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters. . . . While the size of the average exit poll error has varied [in past elections], it was higher in 2004 than in previous years for which we have data, Lenski and Mitofsky wrote. (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Report Acknowledges Inaccuracies In 2004
Exit Polls, The Washington Post, 1/20/05)

The Analysis Found No Evidence Of Fraud Resulting From The Rigging Of Voting Equipment, A Contention Made Repeatedly By Those Who Question The 2004 Vote. (Richard
Morin and Claudia Deane, Report Acknowledges Inaccuracies In 2004 Exit Polls, The Washington Post, 1/20/05)

Lenski And Mitofsky Said That Poor Weather Conditions And More Young People Working As Interviewers Were Another Potential Source Of Error. Poor weather conditions also pushed down cooperation rates. They suspected that there were more young people working as interviewers in 2004, which they said was another potential source of error. (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Report Acknowledges Inaccuracies In
2004 Exit Polls, The Washington Post, 1/20/05)

The 2004 Exit Polls Overstated The Turnout Of Young Voters And Failed To Note That Bush Got A 4-Percentage Point Gain In The People Over 60 Who Voted For Him From The 2000 Election. Larry Harris, a pollster with Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, said the early exit polls overstated the turnout of young voters -- people 18 to 29 -- and failed to note that Bush got a 4-percentage point gain in the people over 60 who voted for him from the 2000 election. (William Douglas, Turnout: The Early Exit Polls Mostly Wrong,
The Detroit Free Press, 11/4/04)

The Exit Polls Vs. The Results

Early Exits Polls Showed Bush A Staggering 20 Points Behind In Pennsylvania And Losing In Every Other Battleground State. The Bush people saw major defeat: Preliminary numbers showed the president a staggering 20 points behind in Pennsylvania and losing in every other battleground state.
(William Douglas, Exit Polls Gave Kerry An Erroneous Early Boost, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 11/4/04)

There Were 26 States In Which The Estimates Produced By The Exit Poll Data Overstated The Vote For John Kerry. But there were 26 states in which the estimates produced by the exit poll data overstated the vote for John Kerry . . . and there were four states in which the exit poll estimates overstated the vote for George W. Bush, said Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research and Warren Mitofsky of Mitofsky International. (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Report Acknowledges Inaccuracies In 2004 Exit Polls, The Washington Post,
1/20/05)

Exit Polls Reported That Kerry Had A Two- Or Three-Percentage-Point Lead Over Bush Nationally And In Several Key States, Including Ohio. Election Day 2004 was a roller-coaster ride for the two presidential candidates and for the political press corps. Successive waves of the national exit poll in the

afternoon and evening reported that Kerry had a two- or three-percentage-point lead over Bush nationally and in several key states, including Ohio. (Richard Morin, New Woes Surface In Use Of Estimates, The Washington Post,
11/4/04)

The Pre-Election Public Polls That Showed Bush With A Small But Definite Lead Over Kerry Of 1 To 3 Percentage Points Turned Out To Be Right On The Money. Tuesday's exit polls were a major shift from several pre-election public polls that showed Bush with a small but definite lead over Kerry of 1 to 3 percentage points. That turned out to be right on the money, a victory for the pollsters' oftencriticized art. (William Douglas, Exit Polls Gave Kerry An Erroneous Early Boost, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 11/4/04)
Commentators Began Calling The Race On Wrong Information Armed With Those Exit Poll Numbers, Network Commentators And Reporters Hinted At A Kerry Victory Before The Polls Closed Tuesday. (Mark Jurkowitz, Early Missteps, Late Night Caution But The Right Call, The Boston Globe, 11/4/04)

Networks Held Off Projecting A Winner In A Reliably Red State Like South Carolina Due To Exit Polling. In two instances on election night -- the results for Virginia and South Carolina -- the networks held off projecting a winner when voting ended because exit polls showed that the races were too close to call, only to see President Bush win easily in both states. (Richard Morin, New Woes Surface In Use Of Estimates, The
Washington Post, 11/4/04)

Exit Polling Was Roundly Criticized In The Aftermath


CNNs Bill Schneider: Put Not Your Faith In Early Exit Polls. It Will Always Be Betrayed. CNN senior political analyst William Schneider said the biggest problem was the overreaction to the exit polls. You have

bloggers, you have the Internet [driving] the quick conclusion that it looked good for Kerry. Put not your faith in early exit polls. It will always be betrayed. (Mark Jurkowitz, Early Missteps, Late Night Caution But The Right Call, The
Boston Globe, 11/4/04)

ABCs Charles Gibson: The Exit Polls Got It Flat Wrong. The exit polls got it flat wrong, asserted Charles Gibson yesterday on ABC's Good Morning America. (Richard Morin, New Woes Surface In Use Of Estimates, The
Washington Post, 11/4/04)

Mason-Dixon Polling And Researchs Larry Harris On Exit Polls: We've Learned In Two Elections In A Row That They Lead To Confusion. It got on Drudge (Report), it got to the campaigns, Harris said of Tuesday's early exit polls. You looked at President Bush (Tuesday) morning and he looked sick. Exit polls are a wonderful advantage in providing context and texture. But for trying to make a call, we've learned in two elections in a row that they lead to confusion. (William Douglas, Exit Polls Gave Kerry An Erroneous
Early Boost, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 11/4/04)

The Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll On Exit Poll Data: We Think It Wasn't Worth What We Paid For It, That's For Sure. We think it wasn't worth what we paid for it, that's for sure, Mr. Coll said of the survey data. (Jim Rutenberg, Report Says Problems Led To Skewed Surveying Data, The New York Times, 11/5/04) Battleground Exit Polls vs. Election Day Results 2004 Actual Result B: 54.9% K: 44.5% B: 52.1% K: 47.1% B: 50.1% 2008 Exit Poll N/A N/A O: 52% Actual Result M: 53.8% O: 45% O: 50.9%

Exit State Poll B: 55% AZ FL IA K: 45% B: 48% K: 51% B: 49%

M: 44% M: 48.4% M: 48% M: 44.7%

K: 49% B: 47% MI MN NV NH OH PA WI K: 51% B: 40% K: 58% N/A N/A B: 41% K: 57% B: 48% K: 52% B: 40% K: 60% B: 43% K: 52%

K: 49.2% B: 47.8% K: 51.2% B: 47.6% K: 51.1% B: 50.5% K:47.9% B: 49% K: 50.3% B: 51% K: 48.5% B: 48.6% K: 50.8% B: 49.4% K: 49.8%

O: 52% O: 60% O: 60% O: 55% O: 57% O: 54% O: 57% O: 58%

O: 54% O: 57.4% O: 54.2% O: 55.1% O: 54.3% O: 51.2% O: 54.7% O: 56.3%

M: 39% M: 40.9% M: 39% M: 44% M: 45% M: 42.7% M: 43% M: 44.8% M: 45% M: 47.2% M: 42% M: 44.3% M: 42% M: 42.4%

(Sources: 2008 Exit Polls; 2004 Exit Polls; 2008 State Results; 2004 State Results)