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Exit polls showing Dems did better than election results show

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On 11/8's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the following exchange occurred:

NewsHour's Ray Suarez:
Quick question on exit polling. A lot of attention in recent cycles and been heavily criticized. Was it roughly a good portrait of the electorate this time?

Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:
It was handled very well. There were some Democratic biases in the early waves of that exit poll. It was showing a bigger Democratic margin than actually turned out to be the case. I think the way they controlled the dissemination of this, locking these people who were looking at it up 'til 5:00 minimized the impact of that overstatement of the Democrats. They did a much better job than they did in '04 in that respect. Looking at the data it suggests they still had some problems in overstating Democrats.

Once again, the problem is simply assumed to be with the exit polls when in fact a discrepancy suggests both should be investigated. It is just as likely, more likely in fact in light of the extra transparency in exit polls, that the elections had a thumb riding the scale that wasn't enough to turn back the Democratic tidal wave, but it did mute it somewhat.

Anybody that thinks the elections were "just fine" because Dems won fairly big isn't recognizing how big they really should have won, and is also a likely target for you to open up a money-changing business because every time they are entitled to a dollar, they will gladly accept 95 cents in change, because hey, they don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth or be "negative" or "conspiratorial."

For more exit poll discrepancy, see

Paul Lehto
Attorney at Law


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Paul Lehto practiced law in Washington State for 12 years in business law and consumer fraud, including most recently several years in election law, and is now a clean elections advocate. His forthcoming book is tentatively titled DEFENDING (more...)

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