Election integrity Elections

Exit poll data to be cancelled in 19 states

The theatre that TV Election Night news coverage has become takes one
more step into the absurd with cancellation of exit poll data in 19
states. The states that will be excluded from detailed exit poll
coverage are: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia,
Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee,
Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The reason, ostensibly, is that these states are not in play. Many of
them ARE in play, however, particularly for important battles for
control of the U.S. House and Senate, and for important gubernatorial
races. By removing crucial components of the exit poll data in these
locations, researchers will be blocked from detailed after-the-fact

“Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a
national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or
racial makeups of electorates won’t be available as they have been
since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in
some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research
for years to come,” write Washington Post bloggers Jon Cohen and Scott
Clement (see below).

If you think the debates have turned into a rehearsed performing act,
in which “zingers” and how a candidate positions his fingers are
treated with greater gravity than substance, then also please notice
that network election night coverage has become “theatre” as well.

In every major election we watch network and national cable TV pundits
pretend that they are competing with other TV outlets, as they refer
to “our” numbers and introduce viewers to “our analysts.” In fact,
they all use identical numbers and analysts, from a single central
source now called the National Election Pool.

I say theatre because TV pundits “call” the race announcing winners,
instead of using the more accurate term “PROJECTED winner.”

And I say theatre because the single source upon which they rely, the
National Election Pool, fudges the numbers midstream by entering
“adjusted totals” usually accompanied by a trend change.

In addition to the numbers flowing in from National Election Pool, the
AP pays state lobbying organizations and local town clerks to call
them with numbers read off of the voting machine tapes. The AP makes
contributions to state election official organizations in exchange for
these phone calls. Sometimes, clerks call in the wrong numbers, which
are entered into the fray for announcing winners. For example, in New
Hampshire’s 2008 primary, two town clerks called in zero votes for Ron
Paul even though he had dozens of votes. Later, when caught, they just
said ‘oops.’

I say “theatre” because based on these projected numbers, candidates
concede prematurely, as we saw in 2000 when Gore conceded privately to
Bush, and was on his way to make a public concession. The 2000 network
projections were flawed by a known wrong total of minus  16,000 votes
in Volusia County, Florida and another 4,000-vote mistake in Brevard

Here’s a news article with additional details on the removal of 19
states from the exit poll data:

Washington Post Blogs – Oct. 4, 2012, by Jon Cohen and Scott Clement


Originally published at BlackBox Voting