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June 05, 2006

Is RFK, Jr. Right About Exit Polls? - Part I

Late last week, Rolling Stone published an article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. that asks provocatively, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"  While it covers many topics involving alleged suppression and fraud in Ohio, the article disappoints in its discussion of the exit poll controversy, because on that aspect of the controversy Kennedy manages to dredge up nearly every long-ago discredited distortion or half-truth on this subject without any acknowledgement of contrary arguments or the weaknesses in his argument.  It is as if the exit poll debate of the last eighteen months never happened. With this two-part post, I want to review the article's discussion of the exit poll controversy in-depth, for it provides a good opportunity to learn something about what exit polls can tell us -- and mostly what they cannot -- about whether fraud was committed in the 2004 elections. 

But before getting to exit polls I want to make two things clear.  First, despite its weaknesses, the Kennedy article raises some important and troubling questions about real problems in Ohio in 2004.  As Ohio State University Law Professor Dan Tokaji puts it, the article is "useful in exposing how shoddy election administration practices can result in lost votes, and how some recently enacted laws will make things worse rather than better."  The summary of problems deserving attention includes long lines in minority precincts, efforts of the Republican Party to selectively challenge (or "cage") new registrants and the many examples of pure incompetence by local election officials.  And then there is partisanship of Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now his party's nominee for governor.  Blackwell will need to answer to Ohio voters for, as Salon.com's Farhad Manjoo writes, having "used his powers for partisan gain," issuing "a series of arbitrary and capricious voting and registration rules that could well have disenfranchised many people in the state" (but interests disclosed: I am a Democratic pollster with clients in Ohio)

Second, while I have devoted 68 posts and tens of thousands of words to the exit poll controversy since Election Day 2004, I have never argued that the exit polls can be used to rule out or disprove the possibility that vote fraud may have occurred in Ohio or anywhere else during in 2004.  The question has always been whether the exit polls provide affirmative evidence that fraud did in fact occur. This involves a very basic concept of statistical inquiry:  We assume no effect until one can be proven, or more technically, we assume a "null hypothesis" until we can prove some alternative.  The same principle exists in law as the presumption of innocence.  We do not assume a crime has been committed and work backwards to try to disprove it.  We presume innocence until enough evidence has been established to prove guilt. 

Everyone agrees that the 2004 exit poll results gathered by the news media consortium known National Election Pool (NEP) showed a small but statistically significant difference that favored John Kerry when compared to the official count.  But is that discrepancy evidence of fraud?  It might be, if we could rule out the possibility that other problems or potential sources of error in the exit polls that can also explain the discrepancy.   What I have argued for the last year and a half is that the exit polls have many such weaknesses that have long been in evidence. 

At the center of the exit poll debate is a basic concept about polls that deserves a lot more attention:  Statistical sampling error -- the random variation that comes from drawing a sample of voters rather than interviewing the whole population -- is just one source of potential error in a survey.  There are others including bias from selected respondents who decline to participate (response error), from voters missed altogether (coverage error), from questions that do not accurately measure the attitude of interest (measurement error) or from a failure to choose exiting voters at random using the correct sampling interval. 

The rest of this post (and the one or more parts that follow) will review the exit poll section of the RFK, Jr. Rolling Stone article line by line.  Passages from the article are in bold italics. 

The first indication that something was gravely amiss on November 2nd, 2004, was the inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and actual vote counts. Polls in thirty states weren't just off the mark -- they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by their margin of error.

It is certainly true that the 2004 exit poll estimates produced by the National Election Pool (NEP) generally overstated John Kerry's share of the vote compared to the vote count.  That overstatement in statewide exit poll estimates averaged five (5) percentage points on the Bush-Kerry margin, according to the report that the exit pollsters, Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, released in January 2005.   

The overstatement was slightly larger (5.5 percentage points) for the estimate of the national popular vote.  The national exit poll sample showed Kerry with 51% and Bush with 48%, but the final count showed a 2.5% margin (50.73% for Bush and 48.27% for Kerry).  It was larger still (6.5 percentage points) in terms of the average error within individual precincts -- something the report termed "within precinct error" (WPE).   

The key point:  Everyone -- including the exit pollsters -- agrees that the average discrepancy was statistically significant. 

In all but four states, the discrepancy favored President Bush.(16)

No.  While the discrepancy was certainly widespread, this sentence misstates the statistics provided in the citation, the Edison-Mitofsky report.  Even if we ignore statistical significance and simply count up the number of states where the exit poll running showed Kerry doing better than the count even by some small fraction of a percent, then the discrepancies favored Bush in all but nine states, not four (see pp. 22-23).   The reference to four states appears to come from the number of states where exit polls overstated Kerry's vote by more than one standard error. But the equivalent number where the discrepancy favored President Bush by more than one standard error was 26 states, not "all but four."

And to try to translate that into something approximating English, a difference of one standard error or more means that we can be roughly 68% confident that the difference is meaningful.  "Statistical significance" is a subjective judgment -- in the eye of the beholder -- but in attitude surveys that term usually implies a confidence level of 95% or greater.

Aside from the distortion of the statistics, however, this point is not particularly relevant.  Again, everyone agrees that the overall exit poll discrepancy was widespread and statistically significant. 

Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an action they just executed.

It is certainly true that exit polls benefit from having ready access to actual voters who have just made their choices.  Exit pollsters need not jump through hoops to identify "likely voters" nor find ways to allocate those who say they are "undecided."   And yes, if you look back at my first post on exit polls on Election Day 2004, I too described exit polls as "among the most sophisticated and reliable political surveys available."

However, I have certainly learned a great deal about exit polls since then, and calling them the "most reliable" of surveys ignores a host of other practical challenges.  Exit polls generally sample a larger number of voters than telephone polls, but they do so because the "cluster sample" technique used on exit polls-- which first selects sample precincts and then voters at those precincts -- has more sampling error than comparably sized telephone poll samples.  Exit polls also miss the growing number that vote by mail or cast absentee ballots. 

[Clarification: the exit pollsters used telephone surveys to reach absentee voters in 2004 in 13 states that had high proportions of absentee or vote-by-mail voters. However, these telephone face all the usual challenges of preelection surveys in identifying actual voters]. 

Most important, exit polls rely on their interviewers to randomly select voters at each polling place.  Interviewers are instructed to keep a running tally of voters as they exit the polling place and attempt to interview only those voters at a specific "interval," such as every third voter or every fifth that passes by.  A host of real world conditions, such as  -- the number of precincts voting at any given polling places, how far the interviewer is required to stand from the exit, the number of exits, inclement weather or simply the interviewer's level of experience -- can interfere with their ability to intercept and interview voters at random. 

Exit poll interviewers must also cope with a phenomenon impossible on telephone polls:  Curious voters who offer to volunteer to participate, even if they would not have been selected according to the random interval procedure. 

Finally, the NEP exit pollsters face an immense logistical challenge:  Once every four years, they conduct exit polls both nationally and in every state.  Thus, they must recruit and deploy enough interviewers to cover nearly 1500 precincts scattered randomly throughout 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

The results are exquisitely accurate: Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by more than three-tenths of one percent.(17)

Not true.  That 0.3% statistic comes from averages calculated by Steven Freeman on the exit polls conducted by one German exit pollster (Forschungsgruppe Wahlen) for the ZDF television network in elections held in 2002, 1998 and 1994.  But even Freeman's paper concedes that other German exit polls have been off by slightly more, and in one case by as much as 1.5% for individual candidates.   

The results were also not quite so accurate for FG Wahlen in the 2005 parliamentary elections (results available here).  They showed a slightly higher error averaged across the five main parties (0.9%).  However, if we group the parties into coalitions as Freeman did in his paper "to make the numbers more comparable to the U.S. Presidential election" (p. 8, see table 1.3) the most recent F.G. Wahlen exit poll showed an error on the margin of 3.8% (my calculation). 

However, while the more recent German exit polls may not be quite as "exquisitely accurate" as Kennedy implies, he and Freeman are right that the German exit polls have typically been more accurate than in the U.S.  And as I explained back in December 2004, that greater accuracy occurs for sound fundamental reasons having to do with measures that appear to reduce sampling, coverage and non-response error: The German exit polls feature larger sample sizes and benefit from significantly better cooperation from election officials.  FG Wahlen assigns two "experienced" interviewers per precinct and they are allowed to stand at the door of the polling place for the entire day.  The NEP assigned one interviewer to a polling place in 2004, three quarters had never worked as an exit poll interviewer before, all had to leave the their polling place uncovered several times during the day and only about half were allowed to stand inside or just outside the door of the polling place.  The German exit pollsters typically obtain an 80% response rate, the US exit polls in 2004 had a 53% completion rate (p. 31). All of this means that the German exit polls are less prone to coverage and response error. 

''Exit polls are almost never wrong,'' Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such surveys are ''so reliable,'' he added, ''that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.''(18)

Dick Morris is entitled to his opinion, but many others with more relevant exit poll experience disagree.  As noted here eighteen months ago (and reported this weekend by Salon's Farhad Manjoo, the ACE Project (an acronym for Administration and Cost of Elections, a joint project funded by the UN and the US Agency for International Development) concluded:

[Exit poll] reliability can be questionable. One might think that there is no reason why voters in stable democracies should conceal or lie about how they have voted, especially because nobody is under any obligation to answer in an exit poll. But in practice they often do. The majority of exit polls carried out in European countries over the past years have been failures

Also, as Bard College political scientist Mark Lindeman reports, senior election observers from the Carter Center have repeatedly advised against the use of exit polls for election monitoring in Central American Countries, calling them "risky," "unreliable" and "misleading."

In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down.(19) And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine -- paid for by the Bush administration -- exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.(20)

And thus we come to an oft-repeated legend: Exit polls "exposed" fraud in Ukraine and elsewhere, so why not here?  The biggest problem with that story is that the election monitors in those counties did not depend on exit polls to provide evidence of fraud.   In Ukraine, at least, the solid evidence came from eye-witnesses, taped phone conversations, and physical evidence of vote tampering.  Review the reports of the most authoritative monitor on the elections in Georgia and Ukraine -- the Office of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) --, and you will find plenty of evidence cited but not a single mention of the phrase "exit poll."

The report of MIT Political Scientist Charles Stewart (as aptly summarized by Salon's Farhad Manjoo) also provides a series of reasons worth reviewing as to why the Ukraine example provides a poor parallel to the 2004 U.S. election.

But that same month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities in the U.S. election, the six media organizations that had commissioned the survey treated its very existence as an embarrassment.

There is reason for a sense of embarrassment and it involves one of the most blatant omissions from the Kennedy article:  U.S. exit polls have been wrong before.  In fact, according to the Edison-Mitofsky report, they have shown a consistent discrepancy favoring the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988.  And while the 2004 discrepancy was the highest ever, they were almost as far off in 1992.  More specifically, the "within precinct error" (WPE) reported by Edison-Mitofsky showed differences favoring the Democrat of 2.2 points on the margin in 1988,  5.0 in 1992, 2.2 in 1996, 1.8 in 2000 and 6.5 in 2004 (see p. 34).

Go back and watch the classic political documentary, The War Room -- or easier, go back and read my post from January 2005 -- and you will see that that leaked exit polls on Election Day 1992 provided as distorted a view as those leaked in 2004.  The difference was that the leaked exit polls in 1992 were known mostly to insiders and served to exaggerate the size of Bill Clinton's eventual victory.  Clinton won by less than those early exit polls suggested, but he still won the election, so there was little lingering outrage. 

Continues with Part II.....

Suggestions for further reading in the meantime on the jump.

[Typos corrected]

For those who cannot wait for the next installment, I strongly recommend these two early reports on the RFK, Jr. Rolling Stone article:

Also highly recommended: two papers presented at the recent AAPOR conference that directly address other contentions in the Rolling Stone Article: 

Interests declared: Both Liddle and Lindeman are friends and have contributed suggestions and comments for this blog post, although I take full responsibility for the final product. Both have made important, arguably heroic contributions to this debate in the face of personal and often anonymous attacks on their reputation and character.

Related Entries - Exit Polls

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on June 5, 2006 at 12:55 PM in Exit Polls | Permalink

Comments

One point of interest MP made is that exit polls fail to sample mail-in and absentee ballot votes and that these forms of voting having increased recently. Is there a measurement of how these votes fall? If it is more toward Bush then case solved. If it is more toward Kerry, there is a greater discrepancy that needs to be explained.

Posted by: mdh | Jun 5, 2006 2:19:02 PM

Good catch mdh, but my omission:

I probably should have said that *polling place* samples miss absentee voters. However, the exit pollsters used telephone interviewing to try to interview absentee voters in 13 states that had high proportions of absentee or vote-by-mail voters. The important point is that these telephone surveys lack the advantage of grabbing actual voters right after casting their ballots.

Posted by: Mark Blumenthal | Jun 5, 2006 2:33:36 PM

I am new to this issue, but have two thoughts to offer.

One, I am a registered democrat. However, I voted for Bush. When I got accosted for an exit pole, a dear friend who I attended the polls with was nearby and in the commotion could hear my discussion with the pollster. It was not a properly "insulated" experience, and I will confess that I found it much easier to simply lie and say I voted for Kerry than to have to deal with my friend and her likely overwrought disappointment.

Second, the "move on" types were in high visibility at my polling place, just beyond the electioneering boundary. Which incidentally is where the pollsters were. I suspect aside from "friend" or "spouse" situations that lead people to lie to the pollsters, there may have been an impact from the moveon.org types' presence as well.

A final observation: It occurred to me that my prevarication (i.e., not owning up to voting for Bush) is probably the more common one. Perhaps as a result of the level of hyperbole from the left or whatever, I dare say that conservatives who voted for Kerry felt less anxiety about sharing their choice as liberals who voted for Bush. To be sure, the plural of anecdote is not "data," but my experience cannot be far off from many others who will have lied to pollsters.

Posted by: Gonzo | Jun 5, 2006 4:47:38 PM

I don't give exit polls any credit because they assume they people will be honest. I have been exit-polled twice in my life, In 1996, I told them I voted for Perot. (I voted for Dole). In 2004, during a primary, I told them I voted for Dennis Kucinich. (I voted for Al Sharpton!).

Posted by: Brian | Jun 5, 2006 4:52:44 PM

Thanks for the response. Nevertheless, it seems that in places where exit polling was the sole form, the question still remains (other than those 13 states referred to above). Is there a separate physical count of mail in and absentee ballots?
It's a shame RFK, Jr. chose statistics and anecdotes that exaggerate this issue, because there seems to be some important core issues underneath. Or is it a case of arguing the extreme to bring attention to the middle?

Posted by: mdh | Jun 5, 2006 4:57:04 PM

The most interesting line of the article for me was ...

In fact, according to the Edison-Mitofsky report, they have shown a consistent discrepancy favoring the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988.

Why is that? What media bias?

Posted by: DM | Jun 5, 2006 5:01:38 PM

If there is any doubt about fraud in '04 read the Conyer's report. As for the polls.. Although I am not a pollster, I don't agree with most of the points in the article or posts here. I noticed that even using the current formula to say that NINE states actually favored Kerry; 9 out of twenty-six? Shouldn't it be closer to 50/50? Flip a coin 26 times and tell me how many heads you get. If there are so many liars out there skewing the polls, aren't there just as many lying about each candidate? (Posters: If you want people to trust your opinion, you may not want to state you lie about the subject matter.) There are right wing pollsters out there who say exactly the opposite of what is here. I can say I am truly glad there are people picking apart RFK's article: this needs to be talked about more than just on Jone's and AAR.

Posted by: Crisco | Jun 5, 2006 6:00:58 PM

Crisco, despite the posts upthread, I don't think most of the exit poll problems have to do with people actually lying to pollsters. (The big presidential exit poll uesd a written survey, so I'm not sure who was _talking_ with Gonzo about his or her vote.) There is no question that more states skewed toward Kerry than toward Bush; MB was just complaining that RFK seemed to stretch to make the skew seem even more one-sided than it was.

Posted by: Mark Lindeman | Jun 5, 2006 6:26:40 PM

Crisco, you don't know anything about coin flips. Flipping a fair coin only 26 times and getting 9 heads is not some completely abnormal phenomenon. In fact, it will happen 4.66% of the time. Getting 13 heads will happen 15.50% of the time. If you do get 9 heads on 26 flips, you cannot rebut the null hypothesis of a fair coin at the 95% confidence interval (Z = 1.9599, p = 34.62%, E = 19.22%, range 15.40% - 53.84%). Finally, if you asked everyone in America to flip a coin 26 times, 9 of them would get all heads or all tails. Maybe you should learn something about statistics before you shove your foot in your mouth again.

Posted by: Joey | Jun 5, 2006 7:12:11 PM

Gonzo, your story confirms that the election was fixed. You are a Democrat, your vote is therefore a Democratic vote. But it was counted for Bush rather than for Kerry. Obvious fraud, don't you see?!

DM, you cite media bias. There is very little bias in the media. All biased people vote for the GOP, and media surveys show that only between 10 and 15% of the US news media vote for the GOP. It is obvious that the US news media is among the least biased groups in the population.

The problem is not biased media, it is biased voters. Measures need to be taken to screen these people, then we will fair and honest elections at last.

Posted by: Hey Nonny Nonny | Jun 5, 2006 8:33:55 PM

Hey Joey, don't get so snarky. {:^)
"Maybe you should learn something about statistics before you shove your foot in your mouth again."

A lot of very well-meaning people don't quite understand the laws of probability.

On the other hand, you are exactly correct. Within the laws of probability, of course.

Maybe all people "commenting" should be required to hike on down to their local commmunity college and take
"Elementary Logic, 101"
"Elementary Statistics, 101"

Is there some course in "Elementary Lying about any issue in general, 101" ?
Seems a LOT of people in the world got a "A plus".

Posted by: Dan P. | Jun 5, 2006 8:42:47 PM

*sigh* Umm, actually, I believe that is 9 blue shifts out of 50 jurisdictions (including DC, not including Oregon), so Crisco got basically the right answer for not quite the right reason.

Mark B. didn't point this out directly, but there seems to be a specific problem with RFK's first claim: he meant, or should have meant, that results in 30 states were off by more than one standard error, not by more than their "margin of error." Plus-or-minus one standard error is roughly half the conventional margin of error (a 95% confidence interval, roughly plus or minus two standard errors). 26 of those had red shift and 4 had blue shift. Again, definitely a disproportionate result -- although absolutely not the result that RFK reported.

It appears to me that fourteen states were off by two or more standard errors; thirteen had red shift and one (South Dakota) had blue shift. Again, definitely a disproportionate result.

Oh, but Crisco: even though I don't especially think there were lots of lying respondents, if there were, I wouldn't expect an equal number of liars on both sides. Just a hunch. Stuff tends not to cancel out as neatly as one would like.

Posted by: Mark Lindeman | Jun 5, 2006 8:55:56 PM

"Flip a coin 26 times and tell me how many heads you get. If there are so many liars out there skewing the polls, aren't there just as many lying about each candidate?"

This common sentiment is a product of almost wilfull ignorance, and if anything is an indictment of the Internet itself.

No, of course there were not just as many lying about each candidate. Bush was almost as unpopular two years ago as he is now, and publically supporting him was about as socially unacceptable as could be. We saw every celebrity and cool person in America speak out for Kerry. We saw admitted Bush voters mocked and heckled mercilessly for ten months. Yet somehow, the nutroots Internet crowd can not conceive how Bush voters would be several percentage points more likely than Kerry voters to lie to- and mostly, to simply avoid speaking to- pollsters.

You ostracized them, embarassed them, ridiculed them, mimicked them, and shouted them down on television, radio, and to their faces for almost a year. Fair enough. You accomplished your mission, and convinced legions of young and stupid people how important it was to "Yo get out and vote man."

But when the dust settles, don't look around and wonder at the mess you've made and how it got there, and certainly don't blame the other guy.

Posted by: HitNRun | Jun 5, 2006 8:57:15 PM

This whole thing can be explained by one simple fact--

The exit polls were manipulated to reflect a larger vote for Kerry than was actually happening. This was done in order to cause Bush voters waiting for later in the day to give up and go home without voting.

And it was a good scheme, mainly because most Bush voters actually do work, and can't vote until they leave work. Kerry voters can amble into the voting booth whenever they wake up, perhaps on the way to the welfare office to pick up their checks. It's not difficult to imagine that if one successfully discouraged Bush voters during the day, one might reduce the total Bush votes significantly by closing time.

Whoever attempted this trick was doubtless shocked to find that, in spite of a successful ploy, so many people were voting for Bush that the ploy made no difference in the outcome. Except that the outcome now was so widely different from the exit polls that this itself became the story.

Can you say "blowback"?

Posted by: dave | Jun 5, 2006 9:04:56 PM

Good call Dave. No one in their right mind would use a sample of, say, 10 marbles to estimate the number of red marbles in a bucket full of red and blue marbles, then turn around and claim that the bucket was fraudulent when the sample estimate turned out to be inaccurate.

Translated to the debate on the 2004 election, we can say that the discrepancies between the polls and the election results were not due to a fraudulent election, but to fraudulent polling -- nationwide and on a massive scale.

To my knowledge, there are representatives of both parties at all voting precincts. Who is watching over the pollsters? What stops them from simply padding their results if they are inclined to do so (an it appears they may have been so inclined)?

What is needed here is not an investigation into the election process in Ohio, but an extensive investigation into an obvious attempt by exit pollsters to influence the outcome of the election.

Posted by: beimami | Jun 5, 2006 9:38:45 PM

dave: One problem with your theory (which you call "one simple fact") is that you don't present the slightest evidence for it..

Posted by: David T | Jun 5, 2006 9:40:52 PM

beimani--Somehow the thought never seems to occur to you that there could be explanations other than either deliberate poll manipulation or vote fraud.

Posted by: David T | Jun 5, 2006 9:43:27 PM

To bloddy hell with the exit polls! Typical of Republicans, you'll find one flaw in the argument out of hundreds pieces of evidence and hammer on that until the cows come home. There is plenty of other documented evidence that Republican dirty tricks were in full play. Whether or not they caused Bush to win may never really be known, as those in control of the evidence (Ken Blackwell, et. al.) will either bury it or destroy it. Why are Republicans committed to fewer people actually getting to vote? Because they loose on the issues that matter to Americans! What are they talking about today, with Iraq melting down, gas prices through the roof, and the Fed planning to raise interest rates for the 17th time? Gay friggin' marriage. Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph! Is that really the Republican strategy for victory this November? Can they really actually win without voter fraud? Are Americans really stupid enough to fall for that again? God help us if they are...

Posted by: Ken in MN | Jun 5, 2006 11:53:03 PM

1. I always lie to pollsters.

2. I'm a Libertarian, and most pollsters have never HEARD of Libertarians, so even if I told the truth to pollsters (which I never do) they'd probably get it wrong by lumping me in with the Undecideds and the Perotistas and the Greens.

3. Dave suggests that the undue emphasis on polls is a sneaky way to suppress the Republican, that is to say "employed", vote. David T complains that Dave cites no evidence. Here's some. In 2000, all the networks released the Florida results of the Bush-Gore race at 8:15 PM, right after the polls closed, stating that Gore was the winner. The only problem is, the Panhandle of Florida is in the Central time zone, so "Gore Wins!" is on the radio while Panhandle precints, arguably the most conservative, are still open. I know three people who told me that they were on their way to vote at 7:30 CST, heard the election results that Gore had won, and drove straight to the bar to get drunk. If one percent of the probable Bush voters had done that, then the "actual" results should have given Bush enough votes to forever resolve the issue.

Did they lie? Who knows? The point is that the networks NEVER make this sort of error in the GOP's favor, but FREQUENTLY make similar errors in the Dem's favor.

Posted by: Ken Mitchell | Jun 6, 2006 1:02:35 AM

If Brian (the poster commenting above) is such a pathological liar, at least when it comes to answering exit pollsters, why should any of us assume he is not lying in the post here. Maybe he never voted at all, or votes for GOP candidates every time. It reminds me of the ancient story of the Cretin who asserts that all Cretins are liars.

Posted by: ewastud | Jun 6, 2006 1:33:31 AM

Gonzo, that sort of thing happens all the time, on both sides--think married couples, for example.

Dave, the demographics don't bear you out here, try again.

HitNRun, actually, no, Bush is *way* more unpopular now than he was two years ago. More's the pity.

Ken, the first network to call the 2000 election (too early) was Fox, when they called Florida for Bush. Look it up.

Posted by: | Jun 6, 2006 1:36:26 AM

ewastud,

He's obviously lying--who would vote for Dole *and* Sharpton? :)

Posted by: | Jun 6, 2006 1:37:57 AM

Blumenthal presents some valid points and, perhaps the exit polls do not provide absolute proof of fraud in favor of Bush, but they certainly CAN be interpreted to suggest it. Taken in conjunction with the MULTITUDE of other evidence of Election fraud in the Kennedy article and elsewhere, it becomes much harder to say that the discrepancies that the Exit Polls indicate are not completely consistent with the greater evidence of election fraud favoring Bush.

What happened in the 12 Rural Counties in Ohio is by itself evidence enough to say with virtual certainty that something was rotten in Denmark (or Ohio, if you will) and by itself was possibly enough to have shifted the results of the election. And why did GOP officials in Warren County conspire to lock out observers of the counting process by inventing a terrorist threat? Finally, if the vote really was on the up and up, why not allow the recount to go forward in the prescribed and legal fashion, rather than gaming it as it has been proven to have occurred?

The bottom line is, we shouldn't even have to ask these questions in a country that is supposed to be a democracy and in which honest, fair and verifiable elections MUST be the cornerstone of that democracy. This should NOT be a partisan issue to anyone who really believes in the American Democracy as it is supposed to be. Our election system is an absolute mess, and, like so many other things, has been co-opted by private and partisan concerns who, in this case, claim that their proprietary interests should trump the needs of the electorate to be certain their votes are being counted in an honest and independent manner.

Simply put, without a uniform, open and verifiable election system, there will continue to be questions of legitimacy, no matter which side wins. One can only imagine how the Republicans would be screaming if everything was reversed and it was the Democrats who were winning under these circumstances.

These problems can be fixed and confidence in the vote and in our democracy can be restored if we take this issue out of the partisan realm in which it is currently being debated and agree that we are all in this great experiment in democracy together.

Posted by: Steve | Jun 6, 2006 2:28:13 AM

The most interesting line of the article for me was ...

In fact, according to the Edison-Mitofsky report, they have shown a consistent discrepancy favoring the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988.

Why is that? What media bias?

Posted by: DM | Jun 5, 2006 5:01:38 PM

----------------------------------------

DM, what it is is compelling evidence that the Republicans have been engaged in widespread and systemic voter fraud for nearly two decades. How do you think the GOP won back the House after losing it for 40+ years? Certainly not by any legitimate means.

Posted by: Aaron | Jun 6, 2006 8:02:37 AM

Steve,

You are right, the discrepancies between the election results and polling results are evidence of malfeasance. As I said above...

No one in their right mind would use a sample of, say, 10 marbles to estimate the number of red marbles in a bucket full of red and blue marbles, then turn around and claim that the bucket was fraudulent when the sample estimate turned out to be inaccurate.

Translated to the debate on the 2004 election, we can say that the discrepancies between the polls and the election results were not due to a fraudulent election, but to fraudulent polling -- nationwide and on a massive scale.

To my knowledge, there are representatives of both parties at all voting precincts. Who is watching over the pollsters? What stops them from simply padding their results if they are inclined to do so (and it appears they may have been so inclined)?

What is needed here is not an investigation into the election process in Ohio, but an extensive investigation into an obvious attempt by exit pollsters to influence the outcome of the election.

Now, David T. suggests "...that there could be explanations other than either deliberate poll manipulation or vote fraud."

I agree, but we won't know until a massive bipartisen government investigation of the
pollsters is completed.

BTW: if Kerry had won while the polls reported that Bush was ahead, the media would be all over the polling organization, demanding to know what they did wrong.

Posted by: beimami | Jun 6, 2006 9:19:28 AM

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