Wisconsin Recall: Exit Polls and the True Vote Model
Richard Charnin
Aug. 29, 2011

In each of the five recall exit polls conducted in Wisconsin, the Democrats did much better in the polls than in the official count (67.8% vs. 52.4% on average). Why the large discrepancies? Are those polls to be believed? This analysis provides a possible explanation, keeping in mind that it is based on a limited number of exit poll locations.

It is important to understand the difference between state and national exit polls in prior elections and those conducted in the Wisconsin recalls. The latter had a very simple aim: to compare how respondents said they voted to the official count. Unlike well-known state and national exit polls, the recall exit polls were not designed to determine how various demographic groups voted.

The National Exit Pool is a consortium of six media giants that funds the state and national exit polls. The NEP use stratified sampling to select precinct locations that are representative. Final state and national exit polls are always forced to match the recorded vote. It is standard operating procedure. It is also standard policy for the NEP not to let the public see their “unadjusted” exit poll data.

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