A Reply to Nate Silver’s “Ten Reasons Why You Should Ignore Exit Polls”
Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)
Oct. 29, 2010
Update: March 25, 2013
Nate, this is a reply to your November 2008 post Ten Reasons Why You Should Ignore Exit Polls. It’s four years later but it would be instructive to review your comments on exit polls to see if you feel the same way about them. I’m still waiting for your response to my open letter regarding your pathetic last-place ranking of pollster John Zogby . I would also be interested in your answers to these twenty-five questions. It would enable readers to gauge your perspectives on election fraud.
Nate, you have it all wrong in your book. The Signal is the 52-42% Democratic lead in the 1988-2008 unadjusted presidential state and national exit polls. The Noise is the media propaganda that the Democrats won by 48-46% as shown in the published adjusted polls. But we all know that it is standard operating procedure to force the exit polls to match the (bogus) recorded vote. The media (that means you) want the public to believe that Systemic Election Fraud is a myth.
Are you asking us to ignore a) the final adjusted exit polls which are ALWAYS forced to match the recorded vote or b) the unadjusted, preliminary state and national exit polls? If it’s (a), then you must believe that election fraud is systemic since the pristine, unadjusted exit polls are always forced to match the recorded vote, even if they are fraudulent. If it’s (b), then you must believe that election fraud is a myth and that the recorded vote reflects actual voter intent (i.e. the true vote). Based on your writings, it must be (b). After reading your “ten reasons”, I can come up with ten reasons why you have never responded to my posts.
The “experts” whom you cite all have issues. You wrote: “Oh, let me count the ways. Almost all of this, by the way, is lifted from Mark Blumenthal’s outstanding Exit Poll FAQ”
Your first mistake was to believe all those discredited GOP talking points and to cite Mark Blumenthal as your source. You may not be aware that Mark was the original Mystery Pollster and has worked full-time since 2004 to debunk any references to exit polls as indicators of election fraud.
In June 2006, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a seminal article in Rolling Stone Magazine: Was the 2004 Election Stolen? In a pitiful attempt to debunk RFK, Salon’s Farhad Manjoo wrote Was the 2004 Election Stolen? No. Manjoo’s hit piece contained factual errors and omissions and was fully debunked by a number of analysts. Mark Blumenthal then attemped a defense of Manjoo and smeared RFK in this piece: Is RFK, Jr. Right About Exit Polls?
Now I will count the ways. My responses follow each of your statements as to why we should ignore exit polls.
1. Exit polls have a much larger intrinsic margin for error than regular polls. This is because of what are known as cluster sampling techniques. Exit polls are not conducted at all precincts, but only at some fraction thereof. Although these precincts are selected at random and are supposed to be reflective of their states as a whole, this introduces another opportunity for error to occur (say, for instance, that a particular precinct has been canvassed especially heavily by one of the campaigns). This makes the margins for error somewhere between 50-90% higher than they would be for comparable telephone surveys.
Not true. I should stop right here. Exit polls have a much smaller margin of error than pre-election polls. It stands to reason that exit polls are more accurate than pre-election polls because a) those polled know exactly who they voted for and b) in pre-election polls, respondents might change their mind – or not vote.
Regarding cluster samples, perhaps you are unaware that exit pollsters Edison-Mitofsky state in the notes to the National Exit Poll as well as in the NEP Methods Statement that exit poll respondents were randomly-selected and the overall margin of error was 1%. Adding the standard 30% cluster effect raises the calculated 0.86% MoE to 1.1%.
But I understand why you would claim that exit polls are inaccurate since you apparently believe election fraud on voting machines is non-existent. After all, you never discuss the fraud factor. So of course you would conclude that the exit poll discrepancies from the recorded vote indicate that the polls are wrong. The fundamental problem with all your analysis is that you fail to consider the possibility that the polls were close to the truth and the discrepancies from the recorded vote were the result of systematic election fraud. But that is typical of mainstream media pundits. If they discussed the fraud factor, they would be out of a job.
You apparently believe that the final Likely Voter (LV) pre-election polls (which are a subset of all Registered Voters (RV) interviewed) are spot-on because they match the bogus recorded vote. But LV polls always understate Democratic turnout, since the vast majority of voters who fail to pass the Likely Voter Cutoff Model are young, newly registered Democrats. That’s one reason why Democrats average higher in the RV polls than in LVs and the media avoids the RVs in the month prior to the election. Another factor is that telephone polls miss cell-phone users who are young and Democratic. Most important, pre-election polls have been shown to overweight Republicans based on prior bogus recorded votes.
2. Exit polls have consistently overstated the Democratic share of the vote. Many of you will recall this happening in 2004, when leaked exit polls suggested that John Kerry would have a much better day than he actually had. But this phenomenon was hardly unique to 2004. In 2000, for instance, exit polls had Al Gore winning states like Alabama and Georgia (!). If you go back and watch The War Room, you’ll find George Stephanopolous and James Carville gloating over exit polls showing Bill Clinton winning states like Indiana and Texas, which of course he did not win.
There you go again, assuming that the recorded vote was fraud-free. Of course the Democrats always do better in the exit polls than in the recorded vote. But did you ever consider why? Perhaps you are unaware that millions of votes are uncounted in every election and the vast majority are Democratic (over 50% are in minority districts). The U.S. Census reported over 80 million net uncounted votes since 1968. You make the false assumption that the recorded vote is the True Vote. Uncounted votes alone put the lie to that argument, not to mention votes switched at the DREs and central tabulators.
You say Clinton did not win Indiana or Texas. How do you know? Can you provide proof that the voting machines were not tampered with? Perhaps you are unaware that in 1992 there were 9.4 million net uncounted votes, approximately 75% for Clinton. Clinton’s margins were very plausible. The exit polls indicated that he won Indiana by 53-30% (Perot had 16%) and Texas by 43-32% (Perot had 25%). But they were both likely stolen by Bush. Clinton lost Indiana (42.9-36.8%) by 138,000 votes (330,000 uncounted). He lost Texas (40.6-37.1%) by 215,000 (663,000 uncounted). So had all the votes been counted, Clinton would have won both states. Note that we are not even considering vote-switching from Clinton or Perot to Bush, just the uncounted votes.
In 1996, there were 8.7 million net uncounted votes – again, approximately 75% for Clinton. Clinton won the Indiana exit poll by 50-40%, but Dole won the recorded vote by 117,000, 47.1-41.6% (230,000 net uncounted). The Texas exit poll was tied at 46-46%, but Dole won by 280,000 votes, 48.8-43.8% (700,000 net uncounted). Again, had all the votes been counted, Clinton would have likely won both. And this does not include vote switching from Clinton or Perot to Dole, just the uncounted votes.
3. Exit polls were particularly bad in this year’s primaries. They overstated Barack Obama’s performance by an average of about 7 points.
You are apparently unaware of Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” in which he advised Republicans to cross over in the Democratic primaries and vote for Hillary Clinton. His objective was to deny Obama the nomination. Obama easily won the all the caucuses in which voters were visually counted.
4. Exit polls challenge the definition of a random sample. Although the exit polls have theoretically established procedures to collect a random sample — essentially, having the interviewer approach every nth person who leaves the polling place — in practice this is hard to execute at a busy polling place, particularly when the pollster may be standing many yards away from the polling place itself because of electioneering laws.
You are apparently unaware that exit pollsters Edison-Mitofsky wrote in the notes to the 2004 National Exit Poll that respondents were randomly selected as they exited the polling booth. What is your definition of a random sample?
5. Democrats may be more likely to participate in exit polls. Related to items #1 and #4 above, Scott Rasmussen has found that Democrats supporters are more likely to agree to participate in exit polls, probably because they are more enthusiastic about this election.
You quote a biased GOP pollster who never did an exit poll. There is no evidence that Democrats are more likely to participate. In fact, the historical data shows otherwise. You are resurrecting the reluctant Bush responder (rBr) hypothesis that was disproved by the exit pollster’s own data in each of the 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections. It is also contradicted by a linear regression analysis which showed that response rates were highest in partisan GOP precincts and Red states.
6. Exit polls may have problems calibrating results from early voting. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, exit polls will attempt account for people who voted before Election Day in most (although not all) states by means of a random telephone sample of such voters. However, this requires the polling firms to guess at the ratio of early voters to regular ones, and sometimes they do not guess correctly. In Florida in 2000, for instance, there was a significant underestimation of the absentee vote, which that year was a substantially Republican vote, leading to an overestimation of Al Gore’s share of the vote, and contributing to the infamous miscall of the state.
You are apparently unaware that exit pollsters Edison-Mitofsky claimed that their 2004 precinct design sample was near perfect.
Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that in the 2000 election, nearly 6 million ballots were never counted (a combination of spoiled, absentee and provisional) – and 75-80% were Gore votes – meaning that his True Vote margin was at least 3 million more than his recorded 540,000. And that is why Gore led the state exit poll aggregate by 50-45%.
You are either unaware or choose to ignore the fact that in Florida there were over 180,000 spoiled ballots (113,000 double and triple-punched and 65,000 underpunched) that were never counted – and 75% were Gore votes. You apparently believe the GOP con that the spoiled ballots were due to stupid voters. Why don’t you mention the thousands of Gore absentee ballots that were discarded? Perhaps you are unaware that it has been determined GOP election officials discarded Democratic absentee ballots and included GOP ballots that were filed after the due date. And what about the Palm Beach butterfly ballot in which thousands of Jews were fooled into voting for Buchanan?
If you really believe that Bush won both the national and Florida elections in 2000, then you must also believe that a) the tooth fairy exists, b) global warming is just a hoax and c) the economic meltdown was due to natural supply and demand forces and that the economic forecasting models were at fault. You ignore the strong evidence that the meltdown was due to corrupt global banksters gaming the financial system. And of course, you ignore the election fraudsters that have systematically gamed the computers to miscount votes and prevent millions of eligible citizens from voting. According to you, it is all just noise, never human corruption.
7. Exit polls may also miss late voters. By “late” voters I mean persons who come to their polling place in the last couple of hours of the day, after the exit polls are out of the field. Although there is no clear consensus about which types of voters tend to vote later rather than earlier, this adds another way in which the sample may be nonrandom, particularly in precincts with long lines or extended voting hours.
As a quant, you should ask how was it that Kerry led by 51-48% at 12:22am (13047 respondents) but Bush led at 1:00am at the final (13660) after just 613 additional respondents? It’s simple. The pollsters had to force the National to match the bogus recorded vote (Bush 50.7-48.3%). It was impossible – a total sham. It was Kerry who led the final unadjusted NEP by 51.7-47.0%.
Are you aware that final exit polls are always FORCED to match the recorded vote? The 2004 adjusted final National Exit Poll indicated that 43% (52.6 million) of 2004 voters were returning Bush voters and 37% Gore voters. But Bush only had 50.5 million voters in 2000 – and approximately 2.5 million died. So there could not have been more than 48 million returning Bush voters. If 47 million turned out, there had to be 5.6 million phantom Bush voters. How do you explain that?
In 2008, Obama won the unadjusted National Exit Poll (17836 respondents) by 61-37%. But the poll was forced to match the recorded 52.9-45.6%. Are you aware that Obama had 52.4% of 121 million votes recorded on Election Day and 59.2% of the 10 million recorded later?
8. “Leaked” exit poll results may not be the genuine article. Sometimes, sources like Matt Drudge and Jim Geraghty have gotten their hands on the actual exit polls collected by the network pools. At other times, they may be reporting data from “first-wave” exit polls, which contain extremely small sample sizes and are not calibrated for their demographics. And at other places on the Internet (though likely not from Geraghty and Drudge, who actually have reasonably good track records), you may see numbers that are completely fabricated.
Really? Are these fabricated? You are apparently unaware of the National Exit Poll timeline. Kerry led by 51-48% at 4:00pm (8349 respondents), 9:00pm (11027) and 12:22am (13047). Kerry led at the final 13660 respondents by 51.7-47.0%. But at approximately 1:00am, Kerry responders were flipped to Bush in order to force the poll to match the recorded vote.
9. A high-turnout election may make demographic weighting difficult. Just as regular, telephone polls are having difficulty this cycle estimating turnout demographics — will younger voters and minorities show up in greater numbers? — the same challenges await exit pollsters. Remember, an exit poll is not a definitive record of what happened at the polling place; it is at best a random sampling.
Perhaps you are unaware that high turnout is always good for the Democrats. That’s why the GOP is always trying to suppress the vote. The National Exit Poll indicates that Kerry won 57-62% of new voters and that Obama had 72% of new voters in 2008. But at least you now agree that exit polls are indeed random samples. Glad you corrected point #4.
10. You’ll know the actual results soon enough anyway. Have patience, my friends, and consider yourselves lucky: in France, it is illegal to conduct a poll of any kind within 48 hours of the election. But exit polls are really more trouble than they’re worth, at least as a predictive tool. An independent panel created by CNN in the wake of the Florida disaster in 2000 recommended that the network completely ignore exit polls when calling particular states. I suggest that you do the same.
I suggest that you do your homework. You will surely fail this Election Fraud Quiz. Exit polls are more trouble than they are worth? Yes, it’s true – for those who rig the elections. Perhaps you are unaware that the exit polls were the first indicators that the 2004 election was stolen. Nate, your problem is that you refuse to admit that Election Fraud is systemic – or that it even exists. You want your readers to believe that the recorded vote accurately depicts true voter intent and that the exit polls are always wrong. Tell that to Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow when you guest on their show.
In 2008, Obama had a recorded 52.9% share and won by 9.5 million votes. But he had to overcome the 5% fraud factor. You are probably unaware that the unadjusted National Exit poll indicates that he won 61% of 17,836 respondents. Obama had 58.0% in the unadjusted state exit poll weighted aggregate (82,388 respondents) winning by 23 million votes – exactly matching the True Vote Model which used the same adjusted final NEP vote shares.
The Bush/Kerry 46/37% returning voter weights in the adjusted final 2008 NEP implied that there were 12 million more returning Bush than Kerry voters – an impossible 103% turnout of living Bush voters. The True Vote Model calculated a feasible 47/40% Kerry/Bush split. Bush won the bogus recorded vote by just 3 million but Kerry won the True Vote by 10 million.
And you would also surely agree that there could not have been 5 million returning third-party voters indicated by the final 2008 NEP since just 1.2 million were recorded in 2004.
We have the 1988-2008 unadjusted state and national exit polls from the Roper website (nearly 500,000 exit poll respondents). The Democrats led the polls by 52-42%; but just 48-46% in the recorded vote. That’s an awful lot of Reluctant Republican Responders, yes?
Presidential election fraud is consistent and predictable. The unadjusted state and national exit polls have matched the True Vote Model in every election since 1988.
You are probably unaware that of the 274 state exit polls in the 1988-2008 presidential elections, 126 exceeded the margin of error (including a 30% cluster factor). Only 14 would be expected to exceed the MoE at the 95% confidence level. Of the 126, 123 “red-shifted” to the Republican and THREE to the Democrat. The probability is 5E-106. Can you explain it?
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Finally, Nate, you need to gain a new perspective on exit polls.
Track Record: Election Model Forecast; Post-election True Vote Model
2004 Election Model (2-party shares)
Kerry 51.8%, 337 EV (snapshot)
State exit poll aggregate: 51.7%, 337 EV
Recorded Vote: 48.3%, 255 EV
True Vote Model: 53.6%, 364 EV
2008 Election Model
Obama 53.1%, 365.3 EV (simulation mean);
Recorded: 52.9%, 365 EV
State exit poll aggregate: 58.0%, 420 EV
True Vote Model: 58.0%, 420 EV
2012 Election Model
Obama Projected: 51.6% (2-party), 332 EV snapshot; 320.7 expected; 321.6 mean
Adjusted National Exit Poll (recorded): 51.0-47.2%, 332 EV
True Vote Model 56.1%, 391 EV (snapshot); 385 EV (expected)
Unadjusted State Exit Polls: not released
Unadjusted National Exit Poll: not released