(More exit polls coming soon. We explain why you shouldn't trust them below.)
The head to head exit polls just were sent to the Huffington Post by a Democratic source. These are traditionally unreliable and should be taken with a grain of salt (see: Kerry's winning margins in 2004). For what it's worth, they project a big night for Obama in several of the key swing states.
The states looking good for Obama:
Florida: 52 percent to 44 percent
Iowa: 52 percent to 48 percent
Missouri: 52 percent to 48 percent
North Carolina: 52 percent to 48 percent
New Hampshire: 57 percent to 43 percent
Nevada: 55 percent to 45 percent
Pennsylvania: 57 percent to 42 percent
Ohio: 54 percent to 45 percent
Wisconsin: 58 percent to 42 percent
Indiana: 52 percent to 48 percent
New Mexico: 56 percent to 43 percent
Minnesota: 60 percent to 39 percent
Michigan: 60 percent to 39 percent
The states where McCain is leading in exit polls:
Georgia: 51 percent to 47 percent
West Virginia: 45 percent to 55 percent
Again, as a point of caution, here is what Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said about exit polls in an interview today with the Huffington Post: "The biggest problem with exit polls is... we do know that young voters are much more likely to do an exit survey and seniors are much less likely to do an exit poll," he said. "So exit polls are heavily waited to young people, which normal bias favors Democrats especially this year."
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SENATE EXIT POLLS
More exit polls are coming in - again from a Democratic source - this time concerning some of the major Senate races. Percentage numbers were provided, just the margins of victory for respective candidates.
Again, read these with caution, even the source says they seem "optimistic."
-- New Hampshire: Sen. John Sununu down 18 points to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen
-- Minnesota: Sen. Norm Coleman down 12 to Democrat Al Franken
-- Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is up two over Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford
-- Georgia: Senator Saxby Chambliss up three over Democrat Jim Martin
-- Colorado: Rep. Mark Udall is up 51 percent to 44 percent over Republican Bob Schaffer
-- North Carolina: Democrat Kay Hagen is up 52 percent to 43 percent over Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole
-- Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is "winning" her race against Republican challenger John Kennedy
STATE BY STATE EXIT POLLS
VIRGINIA -- POLL CLOSE: 7:00 PM
-- 22% of the vote is African American and Obama is winning 91% of it.
-- Among white voters, 58% are backing McCain, while 41% are supporting Obama. In 2004, Kerry won 32% of the vote here while Bush won 68% of it.
-- 72% disapprove of the job Bush is doing; only 27% approve.
-- More than half of voters think McCain will continue Bush's policies; fewer think he will take the country in a different direction.
-- Obama is winning the support of both men and women, but white men and white women are backing McCain.
-- Among whites, one in five said race was a factor in their vote today and they backed Mccain.
-- More blacks (4 in 10) said race was a factor and they voted overwhelmingly for Obama.
-- Obama looks to be improving on Kerry's margins in Northern Virginia.
-- Most voters say McCain as the candidate on the attack: nearly 7 in 10 say he attacked Obama unfairly; fewer than half say Obama attacked McCain unfairly.
INDIANA -- POLL CLOSE: 7:00 PM
-- The economy is the top issue here (as it is nationally) and Obama appears to be benefitting from that. Among economy voters, Obama 56% to 43%.
-- White working class (those without a college degree and earn less than $50K) are backing Obama slightly over McCain by 51% to 48%.
-- Men are divided in their support, while Obama has the advantage with women.
-- 42% of voters are white evangelicals, up from 35% in 2004. McCain is getting 68% of their support. Bush captured 77% of the vote in 2004.
-- 35% of voters in IN were looking for a candidate who could bring about change, while almost as many (33%) were looking for someone who shares their values. The change voters are supporting Obama, while the values voters are supporting McCain.
GEORGIA -- POLL CLOSE: 7:00 PM
-- 30% of voters are African American (up from 25% in 2004) and 97% are backing Obama.
-- Whites are backing McCain by about the same margin they supported Bush in 2004.
-- The top candidate quality was values, closely followed by change. Those who selected values as the most important quality backed McCain, while the change voters supported Obama.
NORTH CAROLINA -- POLL CLOSE: 7:30 PM
-- 22% of voters were African American (26% in 2004) and Obama is getting 97% of their vote. As expected, an improvement on Kerry's performance four years ago.
-- White voters are backing McCain by 62% to 37%.
-- 11% of voters in NC are new voters, voting for the first time this year, they too have the economy on their minds and 3 in 4 of them are backing Obama.
-- Change and values are nearly tied for the #1 quality. Obama wins the change people, while McCain takes the values people.
OHIO -- POLL CLOSE: 7:30 PM
-- 86% are worried about the direction of the economy, including more than half who are very worried. (Obama is getting the support of those worried voters.)
-- Hillary Clinton won the primary here, and Obama is getting the support of 82% of Democrats who backed her in that contest. 16% are backing McCain.
-- 12% of voters in Ohio are black, up from 10% in 2004. 98% of them are backing Obama.
-- Both white women and white women are going for McCain.
-- More voters see view Obama has a candidate who is in touch with people like them, while more voters see McCain has having the experience to serve effectively as president.
-- Still, 4 in 10 Ohio voters think Obama's positions on the issues are too liberal.
PENNSYLVANIA -- POLL CLOSE: 8:00 PM
-- A quarter of voters in PA are white Catholics and they are splitting their votes. Kerry lost these voters to Bush by 48% to 52%.
-- Seniors are one-fifth of the electorate and just over half are backing Obama. These voters narrowly backed Kerry by 51% to 48% in 2004.
-- Obama is getting about two-thirds of the support of voters age 18-29. Kerry won 60% of them in 2004.
-- Most voters in the Keystone state made up their minds long ago, but among those who decided in the last week (just over 1 in 10 voters), they are narrowly backing McCain by 51% to 47%.
FLORIDA -- POLL CLOSE: 8:00 PM
-- 13% of voters here were Hispanics (15% in 2004) and they are breaking for Obama by 55% to 45%. This is a reversal from 2004 when Hispanics backed Bush by 56% to 44%.
-- Seniors (24% of voters) are backing McCain over Obama by 53% 46%. In 2004 Bush edged out Kerry by 51% to 48%.
-- 13% of voters are African American in Florida and they and 95% are backing Obama.
-- White men and white women are backing McCain.
-- McCain wins on experience here, while more voters see Obama as being more in touch with people like them.
MISSOURI -- POLL CLOSE: 8:00 PM
-- Young voters (19% of voters) are backing Obama; while seniors (17% of voters) give McCain the edge.
-- White evangelical are 38% of the vote in Missouri and they are backing McCain by 67% to 32%. Not as strong a showing as Bush in 2004.
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FIRST EXIT POLL INFORMATION (5:30 PM ET)
The first exit polls for the 2008 election have been released -- not candidate poll numbers yet, but rather perceptions on particular issues -- and, as much as they can offer insight, the numbers look generally good for Obama.
On a national level, the key concern to most voters, far and away, was the economy, which 62 percent of respondents said was foremost on their mind. This is considered to be Obama's strength.
Iraq, once thought to be the chief issue of the election, was chosen by only 10 percent of voters are their primary concern. And among that subset of voters, Obama had a 2-1 lead.
Meanwhile, nine percent of voters said terrorism was the top issue -- one of McCain's few strong-suits -- the same number who listed health care.
There are some other interesting numbers to glance over. More than a quarter of voters -- 27 percent -- said that they had been contacted by the Obama campaign. Fifty-one percent said they believed government could be doing more to fix the problems of the country (43 percent said less). And for all that "who is Barack Obama?" criticism, more voters were scared of a potential McCain presidency -- 30 percent -- than an Obama win -- 23 percent.
Also... Sarah Palin proved to be a drag on the ticket. Just 38 percent believe that the Alaska Governor was prepared to be President, far less than the 67 percent who said Joe Biden was prepared.
On a macro-level: 76 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track, while President Bush's approval rating stands at 27 percent. (As MyDD noted, Bush's approval is down from 53 percent in 2004 and 42 percent in 2006.) Change voters, finally, made up 35 percent of the electorate while 30 percent wanted someone who shared their values.
The state exit polls tell a similar story. Among several key states, African American turnout was above historical averages (keep in mind, the numbers below don't take into account early voting). Obama, meanwhile, is holding his own -- in terms of traditionally Democratic margins --among white voters. Among many subsets of voters, meanwhile, he is polling better than Kerry did in 2004. For what it is worth, an aide to Obama said he was generally pleased with the data.
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A WARNING ON EXIT POLLS
By Jason Linkins
Should you trust the exit polling data? The short answer is: No. The longer answer is: Noooooooooooo. Right now, if there's one memory that remains -- stinging -- to a nation of Democratic voters it's the memory of a slate of crazy Kerry-leaning exit polls that made it look like Bush was going down to defeat at about 4:30pm on Election Day. It didn't turn out that way.
Marc Ambinder sums up the exit poll phenomena, thusly: First - "anyone who claims to have exit poll data before then is either lying or has really, really good sources." Second - "The problem with the exit polls has never really been a problem with the exit polls. They've been a problem with people incorrectly interpreting the exit polls; people who don't know what the exit polls actually are." I think that this is more or less true. Exit polls could be astoundingly accurate or terrifyingly wrong, but either way, there's one thing that everyone who pimps them has in common: none of them really have any idea what they are talking about.
Nate Silver, the proprietor of FiveThirtyEight.com, has a very good primer on exit polling up on his site that's worth a long look, but to summarize: exit polls have a much larger margin of error than regular polls, they tend to skew to the Democratic candidate, they proved to be really bad predictors this year, they actually miss a ton of voters, and, ultimately, they can never be reliably sourced. (Believe it or not, I ran across a website yesterday that purported to have exit poll data!)
So, if you must indulge in exit polling data, feel free. Accept it as another part of the election scenery, and do not put a lot of stock -- or pin too many of your hopes -- to these results. I cannot caveat this emptor enough, people.
Ten Reasons Why You Should Ignore Exit Polls [538.com]
On The Exit Polls [Marc Ambinder]
Guide To Watching The Election [Tom Edsall]