Why Misleading Exit Polls?
The question of why exit polling got who was winning the popular vote wrong has puzzled the pundits since the election. A number of explanations have been offered. One of these was the pollsters concentrated on women and got a skewed response. By this they must mean they concentrated on women who were at the polls alone, which is a different category of voter overall than women who come to vote with mates. Others offered that exit polling was better for identifying issues voters are concerned with than who they voted for. That is an unprovable argument, because there is no way to test it, and they were mislead about who got the majority of the votes.
According to some reports exit polling identified most of the people as claiming to be democrats. This might be the clue to why they got their polling wrong. The obvious conclusion here is pollsters focused on people they identified with. Another suggestion was there was an intentional effort to influence the outcome of the election by giving skewed early polling reports. The former is possible and I would not discount the latter, but a third possibility has gone unmentioned. Voter intimidation! I think people lied to pollsters intentionally because they were aware of the widespread attempts to influence this election by bullying, vandalism, and other acts of intimidation around the country.
After all the reports that have come out from all over America about what Kerry supporters were doing to disrupt the work of people on the other side, why should people trust exit pollsters enough to give them a straight answer that might cause them some trouble? Most people may be foolish at times but that does not mean they are stupid. People respond to others by how they perceive them, and you can bet that someone coming up to me and asking questions at a voting place would get sized up quick. I think others feel the same way.
There is an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust about that was generated by the Kerry camp, and I think it produced the skewed polling reports that caused the talking heads so much consternation.
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