Exit Polls: Who Will Cheat and When?

Exit Polls: Who Will Cheat and When?
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The waiting is insufferable.

For the last few days political junkies and many other voters have been going crazy. Today is especially critical. All the air has been sucked out of political news, creating an unendurable vacuum. The Main Stream Media is left with thumb-sucking headlines. "Candidates Make Dash for Finish Line" said the New York Times in a particularly limp example today. "Across the country, tens of thousands of column inches will be sacrificed by talented, exhausted writers pumping nothingness out of the void and calling it news," as Jack Shafer has written.

The round up "the usual suspect" leakers - Wonkette, Drudge, Instapundit, and Slate - have been severely chastised by the 2004 debacle. Early in the day, Wonkette called four states for Kerry that eventually went for Bush. This year early exit polls (of 100,000 voters) will be quarantined in a secret room and the results will not be released to the MSM - ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, and AP - until noon. But their cell phones and blackberrys will be confiscated until 5:00 P.M. EST, according to the best of plans, which often go astray. In 2004 the early data went out at 2 P.M. EST. MSM will hold off with specific exit poll results until the polls are closed in each individual state. But for the websites and the ravenous bloggers, the exit polls are too sexy to resist. Mounds of data will come spewing forth minutes after 5 P.M. They will all mention the many caveats: "Polls were wrong last time," "it's all within the margin of error," "numbers are not final," "two percent is too close to call," etc. By 6 P.M. even the MSM, spurred on by the bloggers, will be leaking broad hints as to who is ahead: Wink, Wink. In every election since 1988 there have been errors inflating Democratic numbers, but the pollmeisters have vowed to compensate for this unexplained factor this year. Maybe Republicans lie more, or vice versa.

But be wary of phony polls, which will be no more than quick telephone surveys of a small sample. Good luck. As the British say about exit polls, "It's all in fun anyway."


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