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Short-circuting the process?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Although I'm sure they wouldn't characterize it as a 'final act of support', but some networks may try to call the election prior to 8pm, well before all the polls close across the nation:
A senior vice president of CBS News, Paul Friedman, said the prospects for Barack Obama or John McCain meeting the minimum threshold of electoral votes could be clear as soon as 8 p.m. — before polls in even New York and Rhode Island close, let alone those in Texas and California. At such a moment, determined from a combination of polling data and samples of actual votes, the network could share its preliminary projection with viewers, Mr. Friedman said.
Now there is no question that the race could be over that early, and yes, I know that many of us "inside baseball" types will know that. But at 8pm on the east, the polls in the west will still have hours to go before they close. Anyone who suggests that projecting a win before some people have voted isn't a form of voter suppression ("what's the use, its over) are being disingenuous.

Of course, such projections are going to be based mainly on exit polls. Rasmussen issues a warning about those polls:
Reviewing Fox News/Rasmussen Reports data from key battleground states raises a couple red flags about the use of early exit polling data to predict a winner. Understanding this data from polling conducted last Sunday night may save some a repeat of 2004’s heartache.

The bottom line is that in every state we polled—Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia— Democrats are a lot more eager to take exit polls than Republicans.

In five of the six states, a majority of Democrats say they would be Very Likely to participate in the exit polling process. At the same time, in five of the six states, fewer than 40% of Republicans would be willing to do the same.

In every state, Republicans are at least twice as likely as Democrats to say that they are not at all willing to take an exit poll.

Unaffiliated voters tend to align more closely to Republicans in all six states in both willingness and unwillingness to participate in exit polls.
That's not to say that the person they project early as the winner wouldn't be the winner anyway. What I'm saying is their ability to declare that first isn't as important as the process that produces the eventual winner.

As Rasmussen points out, the purpose of exit polling isn't really to predict a winner:
Part of the frustration may stem from the fact that the primary value of exit polling is to help us understand why people voted the way they did. This is an entirely different task than trying to predict a winner for Internet junkies who can’t wait a few more hours until actual votes are counted.
Bottom line - beware of exit polls and early calls (Rasmussen also warns that any cited exit polling before 5pm EST is not from the “official” news consortium.)
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I have felt for many years that one of two options need to be exercised.

First option would be a news embargo on the election until all the US polls have closed. That includes Alaska and Hawaii. Since that likely is unconstitutional, the second option seems to be the only viable one:

All polls through out the US must be open and close at the same time. So east coast polls must remain open until the west coast polls close. This seems to be more doable. Polls would be open very early on the west coast and very late on the east coast.
Written By: Loren
URL: http://
Loren: For years my thoughts have the same but I suspect that the media has too much power to allow either a constitutional amendment or a state by state change in voting laws. Anyway people are two damn lazy about voting; massive early voting and absentee voting for no cause just shows it.
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