Monday, November 03, 2008

E. Night -- what you trained for

A few last thoughts about E. Night!
To do so, the networks now follow strict rules that govern projections,
examining not only exit poll data but actual vote tabulation and turnout
information. NBC -- which keeps its decision desk isolated from the calls made
by competing networks -- will only call a winner once its statisticians conclude
that the chance of an error is less than 1 in 200. And no calls will be made
until all the polls have closed in a state.Extreme measures are taken to ensure
that early data from the exit poll does not leak out, as it did in 2004, when
the first wave of surveys showing John Kerry in the lead rocketed through
cyberspace.For much of the day, only a small group will have access to the exit
poll, which is being conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky
International for the National Election
, a consortium of the networks and the Associated Press. Three members
from each outlet will be sequestered in an undisclosed location in New York,
where they will analyze the results of questionnaires filled out by 100,000
voters nationwide. Their cellphones and BlackBerries will be taken away until 5
p.m. ET, when they will be allowed to share the data with their newsrooms.It's
the same procedure that was used in the 2006 midterm elections and effectively
prevented the release of incomplete data, much to the relief of network
executives."Exit poll information in the hands of trained professionals is
perfectly fine," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director. "Exit poll
information in the hand of the general public, who may not understand what it
means or stands for, can be dangerous."That's because exit polls are designed to
provide a demographic portrait of voters, not to predict the winner of a close
race. The early waves of data can be especially misleading because they do not
necessarily reflect an accurate sample of the electorate
And a plea to the networks.
Why the exit polls get used.

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