Reminder About Leaked Exit Polls

Conor’s inquiry prompts me to remind all of you about leaked exit polls. Most of my regular viewers have heard this screed before, but for those who have not, remember that leaked exit polls aren’t necessarily “inaccurate” – they are incomplete, and therefore unreliable indicators of the vote.  I still recall the early exit polls that were leaked in 2004 – they had Kerry up – and my colleagues went delirious with joy despite my cautions.  Of course, when Bush won, they assumed vote fraud. Nothing of the sort happened.

In the recent primaries, of course, the early exit polls almost always overstated Obama’s support. I’ve talked extensively why this is the case, so I trust I need not revisit the issue.  Just remember that the raw exit numbers which come in waves are readjusted as the consortium running the polling adjusts for turnout.  So Drudge may leak a first wave as early as 1 p.m. – pay no heed!


  1. For what it is worth, I have heard many anecdotal stories today of very very heavy turnout and I am in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These are very white, much more senior citizen tilted areas.

    Could well be that turnout will be record setting everywhere-and that will be interesting to analyze.

  2. Not that it means anything this day in age, but the NY Times is reporting that six major news networks have agreed to keep exit poll data quarantined until 5 PM (includes NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and the AP)…data crunching is going on in secret apparently…we’ll see how long that actually lasts.

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