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11/05/2004

So what about those exit polls?

Voters_at_polls

What was it that skewed the exit polls so thoroughly as to predict a Kerry victory—even in states Bush ultimately won by decisive margins, such as Florida and Ohio? Michael Barone advances a provocative, though highly plausible, theory in U. S. News & World Report:

My own suspicion is that some Democrats—at the command level, or somewhere below—had an election-day project of slamming the results. New Hampshire, Minnesota and Pennsylvania initial exit poll results had huge margins for Kerry—much larger percentages than he won in any pre-election poll. If somebody had slipped some Democratic operative the list of exit poll sites—40 to 50 sites in each critical state—he or she could have slipped several hundred operatives into the polling places to take the exit poll ballots and vote for Kerry. The results would have shown Kerry much farther ahead than he actually was and, broadcast through drugdereport.com and other sources, could have heartened Kerry supporters during the afternoon and disheartened Bush supporters. When I was active in Democratic politics, in 1964-80, it would have occurred to us to do no such thing. But Democrats these days are so filled with a sense of grievance and with a feeling of justification for employing any dirty tactics to win, that this is not unthinkable. If people can game the exit polls, there's not much point to having exit polls any more.

Let's hope some enterprising investigative journalist takes Barone's theory and runs with it.

Not surprisingly, the discrepancy between the exit poll results and the final vote tallies is causing the Looney Left to look, not for problems in the exit polling, but election fraud by the Bush campaign:

This may offer a plausible motive for MoveOn.org, ACT et al. to have gamed the exit polls: To give Kerry voters a myth of victory to cling to after the election, much as Al Gore's victory in the popular vote did in 2000.

An analysis of the original AP exit polling, which showed Kerry with a tighter margin and leading in myriad states, raises serious questions about the authenticity of the popular vote in several key states.…

Since the actual outcome of the votes have been called, AP has changed nearly all of their exit polling to tighten the margin. A reason has not been given.

The analysis, first conducted by a poster [sic] at the popular Democratic Underground, suggests possible voter fraud in states that do not have electronic voting receipts, and those that limit the media’s access to polls.

There's more in this vein, of course, including wild speculation that Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold (a maker of voting systems used in Ohio and elsewhere) may have somehow rigged the devices to create a Bush victory.

The post concludes that " the odds of President Bush having gained an advantage from every exit poll in swing states is an extremely improbable coincidence." Hmmm … I could have sworn it was Kerry who gained the advantage, but clearly we're into the same area of logic that assumes Karl Rove leaked the forged National Guard memos to 60 Minutes.

Such is life in the so-called "reality-based community."

UPDATE: Captain Ed has an excellent post on the exit polling debacle. But this sure isn't going to help quiet the conspiratorialists.

Posted by Rodger on November 5, 2004 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

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