Tuesday, February 3, 2004

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Take these for what they're worth...

Both The Corner and Taegan Goddard's Political Wire have exit polls from five of the states voting today:

AZ: Kerry 46, Clark 24, Dean 13.
MO: Kerry 52, Edwards 23, Dean 10
SC: Edwards 44, Kerry 30, Sharpton 10
OK: Edwards 31, Kerry 29, Clark 28
DE: Kerry 47, Dean 14, Lieberman 11, Edwards 11

As Kos points out about exit polls: "the NH ones were totally off." However, the key is the Oklahoma number. If Edwards actually wins it, he knocks Clark out of the campaign and forces Kerry to -- at a minimum -- share the front page.

UPDATE: Campaign Desk is just a wee bit annoyed by the leaking of the numbers. While there is some evidence that early poll reporting has a marginal effect on turnout in general elections, I'm not sure if that still holds for these primaries:

1) Exit polls do not have the best track record as of late, so informed voters discount the information. Uninformed voters are unlikely to actively search for the information.

2) Primaries allocate delegates on a proportional basis provided the candidate reaches a minimum threshhold. So, even if a poll shows a candidate losing, the vote can still matter if it gets your preferred choice to place or show.

3) What's startling about these exit polls in particular is that Oklahoma looks like a nail-biter. Might that not boost turnout in that state?

posted by Dan on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM


Interesting. The exit polls in NH overstated Dean's support. These show him way back in the pack. You might think a primary where candidates had been campaigning for months would be less volatile than one where the campaign only got going a week ago. But, you might be wrong.

posted by: Zathras on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

The Columbia Journalism Review's blog ("Campaign Desk") is none too pleased about early release of the poll numbers - see here:


and here:


posted by: shmaryahu on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

I do not buy that these blog postings will have that large an effect. It's not like tons of folks are reading them here. (It's also not like these things are terribly accurate.)

That said, I wonder if the effect of these would be to encourage folks to show up at the polls in Oklahoma, which is starting to look like an important primary.

I notice reports that turnout at this batch of primaries is light. Since the press made a big deal about heavy turnout in New Hampshire as a sign of Democratic determination to oust Bush, what will they do with these results?

posted by: appalled moderate on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

I have no doubt the exit polls have an effect (they just cemented by instinct to go vote for Edwards here in Missouri and help winnow the race down to two strong candidates asap). But so do other polls (my instinct to vote for Edwards in the first place came from knowing he was running second here) and media coverage and word of mouth and on and on. I don't really think they should be kept secret. They seem just as likely to have a positive effect on an election (close race, my vote might actually mean something!) as a negative one.

posted by: David Adams on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

I ask in the spirit of pure inquiry: how do the turnout numbers in these primaries compare with past races? I see 90,000 votes here, 200,000 votes there. In ND, about as many people voted total as voted for mayor of my town in our last election [Population 60,000+].

I ask becuase these numbers sound awful low to me -- to win the AZ primary with only 90,000 votes? Aren't there several million people in AZ? If the turn out is light doesn't that suggest that Kerry et al aren't exactly lighting a fire under the dems? If so, doesn't that bode pretty awful for a national election, especially given how much "bush hatred" there's supposed to be out there?

If anyone can point me to some historical numbers, I'd be grateful.

posted by: C. Owen Johnson on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

Learn googling skills:


I believe that Democratic turnout is a lot higher than in past years.

posted by: Baba on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

On a percentage basis? Doubtless.
On a raw numbers basis?
On what planet?

posted by: Bithead on 02.03.04 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

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