Thursday, November 04, 2004

Exit Polls: It's the Bloggers Fault


News organizations promised Wednesday to look into why their Election Day exit polls showed an initial surge for John Kerry, but also blamed bloggers for spreading news that gave a misleading view of the presidential race.

The exit poll data was delivered at several points Tuesday to the National Election Pool -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and The Associated Press -- by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. The pool hired the companies for exit polling after the networks' blown calls on election night 2000 and exit poll systems failures in 2002.

The first wave showed Kerry with a lead of three percentage points in Florida and four points in Ohio -- both battleground states won by President Bush when the votes were actually counted, giving the president his margin of victory. . .

The Florida and Ohio exit poll results, along with those in other states where Kerry was strong, were quickly disseminated on Web sites such as Slate, the Drudge Report,, and Command Post. . .

"I think people believed them, and it's particularly the case with Internet bloggers," said Kathy Frankovic, CBS News' polling director. "That's unfortunate because it sets up expectations that may or may not be met. I think it's a good exercise because it reminded people that early exit polls can be unreliable."

This is ridiculous. The exit polls were driving the early coverage, and there were veiled references to them during the coverage. People wanted information. Also, the exit polls were news because at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday (1) Kerry's people were elated because they believed the exit polls (in fact, I heard one report that Kerry and Shrum started working on the acceptance speech in the late afternoon), and (2) Bush's people were deeply depressed (in fact, I heard one story that a staffer announced that he was going to get drunk and he left).

With the Internet, information like that represented by the exit polls will never again be contained.

UPDATE: I neglected to note that at Centerfield one of the site's founders asked that we not discuss the exit polls. As a guest there, I respected that request. But I personally don't think that there was anything wrong with disseminating the information.

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