WATCHING THE COUNT - COUNTER-JOURNALISM UPDATE
Surveying the Damage: Exit Polls Can't Always Predict Winners, So Don't Expect Them To
THE WASHINGTON POST is back with another piece of blog-bashing
, this time by its pollster Richard Morin over questions being raised concerning the accuracy of the vote count. As we
have noted, attacking people for asking good questions is a form of counter-journalism and those who practice it should
have their press passes lifted.
The subtext of Morin's piece is that the privilege of hypothesizing belongs to people like himself - and presumably the
weather bureau - and not to those he clearly regards as scum.
Morin is not even waiting for the Ohio recount. Nor does his attack bother with such uncomfortable anomalies and facts
such as these:
- Democratic operatives - and not just Internet sites - were major circulators and believers of exit polls suggesting a
Kerry win. We have as a souvenir of the election an e-mail sent at 4:59 pm from a Democratic source to friends around
town that tells a story quite different than the final results.
- It was not just the morning tally that affected people's thinking. Ted Kennedy appeared on national TV at 7:30 pm and
virtually announced Kerry as the next president.
- CNN apparently changed the results of its exit polls in the middle of election night according to screen shots of its
site taken at different times.
- The exit polls suggest varying degrees of divergence depending on whether the voting was being done electronically or
- There are numerous accounts of voter fraud and mistakes that have yet to be resolved.
Leading pollster John Zogby doubts the exit polls errors could have been produced by either incompetence or fraud. He
told Inter Press Service that there is a problem, "but I don't know where it is . . . Something's wrong here, though."
That is, unlike Morin's rant, a fair description of where we stand. It is a serious problem and one that needs thorough
investigation, if for no other reason than to do it better next time. We know the dog didn't bark but we don't yet know
Leading Pollster: "Something's Wrong Here"
RITT GOLDSTEIN, INTER PRESS SERVICE - John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, told IPS he has
been calling it "the Armageddon election" for about a year. . . Zogby was concerned about the difference between some of
the exit polls (surveys of individuals who have just cast ballots) and the official vote counts. "We're talking about
the Free World here," he pointedly noted. . .
Among the most cited exit polls were those conducted by Mitofsky International, whose founder, Warren Mitofsky, is
widely credited with having invented exit polling. Zogby, whose firm was not among those that provided network TV
coverage of the Nov. 2 election, described the possibility of either incompetence or fraud causing the controversial
deviation as "impossible." According to Zogby, it would have required "wrong sampling in wrong areas throughout the
country," or the purposeful manipulation of data to obtain exit poll results so significantly different from the
official totals. He viewed neither as a possibility. When asked what exactly had happened then, Zogby replied, "a
problem, but I don't know where it is ... something's wrong here, though.". . .
When asked if he was aware of any parallels to the present election, Zogby replied, "I'm certainly aware of the election
of 1960." "It's been discussed, overtly, the role that Richard Daley, and the role that Lyndon Johnson played,
separately," Zogby said, referring to an episode where the John F Kennedy campaign had supposedly asked, "How many votes
do you have?", the reply allegedly being, "How many votes do you need?"
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