Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning.
Dan Merkle, director of elections for ABC News, and a member of the consortium that runs the exit poll, confirmed the shift Wednesday. The aim, he said, “is to still deliver a quality product in the most important states,” in the face of mounting survey costs.
The decision by the National Election Pool — a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press — is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country. (For a full list of the states that won’t have exit polls scroll to the bottom of this post.)
Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won’t be available as they have been since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research for years to come.
DC is excluded, in addition to the nineteen states in black on the map (in case you can’t see it, Rhode Island is one of them). Remember when I talked about pseudostates? It appears that the NEP has found them.
This list includes sixteen red states and four blue ones (including DC). They excluded as many of Obama’s states as they included where McCain managed a majority of the vote. This ought to raise some serious alarm bells. I am at a loss as to what, precisely, the methodology here is.
They’re not going for regional balance, as they are excluding the entirety of the south central states and north central great plains. They’re excluding both Mormon states, and both West Virginia and Kentucky.
We could cite diversity, but no Texas.
We could say that “Oh, gosh, those rural states are expensive…” and yet urban/suburban Utah is excluded while Vermont is included.
We could talk about competitive senate or gubernatorial races, but North Dakota is a tossup and was excluded.
Does this matter? I don’t know. But it sure seems to me that exit polls in non-swing states should matter or should not. If they do not matter, I really do not see much reason to include six of Obama’s top ten. If phone polls are good enough for Louisiana, they’re good enough for Maryland. If they’re worried about missing something in Maryland, they ought to be worried about missing something in Louisiana.
I’d like to be able to say “this may discredit exit polls into oblivion” and a part of me wouldn’t mind that for a variety of reasons. The other part of me loves data. Here at the League, we’ve had people sift through it and get some quite interesting tidbits.
So I hope that this is a mistake or misunderstanding or something.