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Beware of Exit Polling...As Usual

9:19 AM, Nov 3, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Rasmussen's numbers show that Democrats, ever eager to choose their own adventure on Election Night and subject the rest of us to it for the next four years, are more willing to participate in exit polls than McCain voters. That, of course, will make the numbers suspect:

The bottom line is that in every state we polled--Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia-- Democrats are a lot more eager to take exit polls than Republicans.

In five of the six states, a majority of Democrats say they would be Very Likely to participate in the exit polling process. At the same time, in five of the six states, fewer than 40% of Republicans would be willing to do the same.

In every state, Republicans are at least twice as likely as Democrats to say that they are not at all willing to take an exit poll.

Unaffiliated voters tend to align more closely to Republicans in all six states in both willingness and unwillingness to participate in exit polls.

The media has been chastened in the past by inaccurate exit poll numbers and promised to be careful about calling states early, but one can imagine that their legendary self-control might not hold up to sanguine exit polling for Obama from, say, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Indiana, and North Carolina, as east coast polls close (Indiana and Virginia, red states the press would love to paint blue, come in the first wave of poll closings).

Jim Geraghty hit on this last week, and it poses a real problem given than states such as Nevada and Colorado will still be voting when the media jumps to crown Prince Obama:

Will the networks even acknowledge the fact that one candidate's voters are less likely to be represented in the exit polls?...The ingredients are there for a rerun of 2004, when the exit polls indicated a Kerry victory and deviated signficantly from the actual results.