Controversies in Exit Polling: Implementing a Racially Stratified
Homogenous Precinct Approach
, Stephen A.
and Nathan D.
a1 University of Washington
a2 Loyola Marymount University
a3 University of California, Irvine
a4 Welch Consulting, Inc.
In November 2000, exit poll interviews with voters in Florida
indicated that Al Gore won the state. As a result, many television
networks declared Gore the winner of Florida, a pivotal state to winning
the presidency in 2000. Only a few hours later, the first vote tallies
from the Florida Secretary of State's office revealed that George W.
Bush was in fact leading in Florida. After 45 days of recounts and
lawsuits, it was clear that the exit polls were wrong; Bush had won the
state by the narrowest of margins. As a result of the flawed exit poll the
media and pollsters scoured and reanalyzed the methodology used in 2000 to
prepare and correct for the 2004 presidential election. The old system,
Voter News Service (VNS) was scrapped entirely, and Edison-Mitofsky
Research was chosen to implement a new and more accurate national exit
poll in 2004 by a consortium of news organizations retained by the
Associated Press called the National Election Pool (NEP). What happened?
Exit poll results from Edison-Mitofsky showed John Kerry ahead in Ohio,
Florida, and New Mexico—all states which he lost to Bush in
a Author names are listed
alphabetically. The co-authors were also the co-principal investigators of
the Loyola Marymount University 2005 Los Angeles Mayoral Exit Poll. Thanks
to Salvador Paniagua and Haven Perez for their tremendous research
assistance in implementing this project and to the more than 120 student
researchers who participated in the exit polling and data entry. Robert
Aguinaga and Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voter Registration and
Education Project also provided valuable assistance in implementing the
poll. Mark Blumenthal, of mysterypollster.com was instrumental in tracking
down exit poll archives.