Sunday, May 15, 2005

Better Interviews Said Key to Exit Polls

Better Interviews Said Key to Exit Polls
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
Sun May 15, 3:55 AM ET

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Better training of interviewers to get a proper sample of voters after they cast ballots will be key to improving the performance of exit polls, one pollster who handled the 2004 election surveys said Saturday.

Exit polls on Election Day 2004 overstated support for Democrat John Kerry overall and in many key states, which led to widespread confusion that day about the election eventually won by President Bush.

The exit polls contacted more supporters of Kerry than of Bush because of "the failure of interviewers to follow the selection rate," said Warren Mitofsky, who conducted the exit polls along with Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research.

In exit polling, properly trained interviewers are supposed to follow a carefully designed strategy of contacting voters, such as every fourth or fifth voter, to get a random sample.

Mitofsky has said the discrepancy between exit polls and the vote count was caused by several problems with the polls done for the television networks and The Associated Press.

Highlighting findings of a report made public in January, he told the national meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research that even though the exit poll data did not line up with actual vote counts, the exit pollsters and members of the National Election Pool did not "project" an incorrect winner.

"All our projections were correct," he said.

The early — and unauthorized — release of exit poll data on Web sites and blogs helped create the perception that Kerry was going to win the election. Mitofsky said he wants to restrict the release of exit poll findings within the NEP news organizations until 6 p.m. to reduce such confusion in the future.

In past elections, early results often become more accurate as additional results are tabulated, but the polls remained skewed toward Kerry until late in the evening — heightening confusion.

Kathy Frankovic, head of polling at CBS News, said bad calls were avoided because of stringent new safeguards put in place by several media organizations after difficulties in the 2000 election and exit polls.

Mitofsky said the 2004 problems could have been caused by several factors:

_haphazard choice of voters to interview

_lengthy questionnaires

_legal restrictions that kept exit poll interviewers 50 feet or more from voting locations

_hiring of too many young interviewers

_inadequate monitoring of interviewers

Some researchers are still quarreling whether the problems were with the exit poll or the vote count and possible fraud.

Much of the attention has focused on Ohio, which had reports of technology failures, voter confusion and overcrowded polling stations in minority neighborhoods.

Ron Baiman, a research professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago, questioned whether the difference between the exit polls and vote count had been adequately explained and called for further investigation.

But Steven Hertzberg, a nonpartisan researcher investigating election results in Ohio, said "we're not seeing significant shifts in one direction or another" that one have changed the outcome of the election in that state.


On the Net: Exit Poll report:

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By defanging the believability of Exit Poling data, they set the stage for 06 and 08.

Prediction: After the 06 elections they will claim that the changes that were made to improve the relaiability of the resulting data, actually caused errors. The GOP wins and the Dems loose, again.

I hate that every major prediction I have made has come true. In 06, you will see me proven right again.



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