The following is a quote from Farhad Manjoo’s recent attack on RFK Jr.’s article:
You can find the exit poll data that Freeman relies on in his first report on the election, located here: In Iowa, this exit polling data showed Kerry ahead by 50 percent to Bush’s 48 percent; in Nevada, Kerry was ahead 49 to 48; in New Mexico, he led 50 to 47; and in Ohio, he was at 52 to 48. As the pollster Mark Blumenthal has pointed out, the margin of error in these states varied from 5 to 7 percentage points. In none of these states does Kerry’s lead even come close to that level.
MOE (at 95%C) is roughly calculated as 1/sqrtN, where N is the number of ballots sampled. A 5% MOE would characterize a sample size of 400, and a 7% MOE would characterize a sample size of 200. The actual exit poll samples in the battleground states Manjoo mentions ranged from 1951 to 2502. Associated MOEs were about 2%.
If Blumenthal is using the cluster effect to increase the MOEs by 300%, he should know better. The cluster effect might be generously relied upon to increase the MOE by 50% to about 3%, and in fact probably significantly less because of the precision with which the raw data was demographically stratified. If not satisfied with standard statistical analysis, we can reference Edison/Mitofsky’s own methodology statement for the actual MOEs.
Where Blumenthal comes up with MOEs of 5% to 7%, and how Manjoo can quote such absolute nonsense, is truly a mystery worthy of the “mystery pollster.” But it does suggest a level of intellectual dishonesty belied by the disarmingly temperate and “balanced” tone adopted by such critics. The muddy-waters strategy has served well their cause, and harmed democracy irreparably.