- Exit poll
An exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an
opinion poll, which asks whom the voter plans to vote for or some similar formulation, an exit poll asks whom the voter actually voted for. A similar poll conducted before actual voters have voted is called an entrance poll. Pollsters - usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters - conduct exit polls to gain an early indication as to how an election has turned out, as in many elections the actual result may take hours or even days to count.
Exit polls are also used to collect demographic data about voters and to find out why they voted as they did. Since actual votes are cast anonymously, polling is the only way of collecting this information.
Exit polls have historically and throughout the world been used as a check against and rough indicator of the degree of
election fraud. Some examples of this include the Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004, the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004, and the
U.S. presidential election, 2004.
Like all opinion polls, exit polls by nature do include a
margin of error. A famous example of exit poll error occurred in the 1992 UK General Election, when two exit polls predicted a hung parliament. The actual vote revealed that Conservative Party Government under John Majorheld their position, though with a significantly reduced majority.
A more fundamental statistical problem with exit polls is selection bias. The polls, though typically much larger than regular opinion polls, still sample only a small fraction of voters. In a heterogeneous population, sloppy selection of the sample can tilt results to any direction. This pitfall can be avoided if the polling organization is competent enough. However, there are problems more inherent to the nature of exit polls. Since the clients (the media) want to publicize results as soon as the real polls close, exit polls must close a few hours earlier. Therefore, late-hour voters are not sampled at all. Some constituents tend to vote early, for example the elderly and stay-at-home mothers, and are oversampled in the exit polls. Other constituents tend to vote late and are under-sampled. This may be the explanation for the 2004 US presidential election discrepancy between early exit polls indicating a Kerry victory, and the final outcome. Additionally, voters may be more or less willing to participate in the exit polls, or more or less willing to sabotage the poll by providing a false vote, depending on their political tendency. This is known as nonresponse and response bias, respectively.
Criticism and Controversy
Widespread criticism of exit polling has occurred in cases, especially in the
United States of America, where exit-poll results have appeared and/or have provided a basis for projecting winners before all real polls have closed, thereby possibly influencing election resultsFact|date=September 2008. In the 1980 U.S. presidential election, NBC predicted a victory for Ronald Reagan at 8:15 pm EST, based on exit polls of 20,000 voters. It was 5:15 pm on the West Coast, and the polls were still open. There was speculation that voters stayed away after hearing the results. [ Facts on File Yearbook 1980 p865 ] Thereafter, television networks voluntarily adopted a course of not projecting the presidential victor until after polls closed in the West, Hawaii and Alaska excludedFact|date=February 2008. In the 2000 U.S. Presidential election it was alleged that media organizations released exit poll results for Floridabefore the polls closed in the Florida panhandleFact|date=February 2008.
Leaks of early exit poll figures for the 2004 presidential election, mainly via the
Internet, appeared to indicate a victory for John Kerry. The discrepancies between the exit poll data and the vote count that were outside of the margin of error, coupled with irregularities in the election which seem to explain the discrepancies and what many perceive as evasive tactics by the polling companies, have shed doubt on the legitimacy of that election amongst political activists and some government officials. "(See 2004 United States election voting controversiesfor more detail.)" Effective from the 2006 election cycle, in order to minimise controversies created by exit polls, point persons of the different networks are to be secluded from outside contact until such a time it is determined it is safe to release the polls.
Some countries, such as the
United Kingdomor Germany, have made it a criminal offence to release exit poll figures before the polling stations have closed, while others, such as New Zealandand Singapore, have banned them altogether. [ [http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/opinion-polls-paper.pdf Comparative study of laws and regulations restricting the publication of electoral opinion polls] , Article 19 (2003)] In some instances, problems with exit polls have encouraged polling groups to pool data in hopes of increased accuracy. This proved successful during the 2005 UK General Election, when the BBC and ITV merged their data to show an exit poll giving Labour a majority of 66 seats, which turned out to be the exact figure. This method was also successful in the 2007 Australian Federal Election, where the collaboration of Sky News, Channel 7 and Auspollprovided an almost exact 53 percent two party-preferred victory to Labor over the ruling Coalition.
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exit poll — ➔ poll1 * * * exit poll UK US noun [C] ► POLITICS a study in which people are asked how they voted as they leave the polling station (= place where people vote): » According to exit polls, no party will have an overall majority. exit polls… … Financial and business terms
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exit poll — ex it poll a survey poll taken by interviewing voters as they leave (exit) the polling place, to determine how they voted and for what reasons; it is usually taken by news media to learn at an early time (often before the balloting has finished)… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
exit poll — / ɛksit pəʊl/, it. / ɛksit pol/ locuz. angloamer. [comp. di exit uscita e poll votazione , quindi votazione all uscita ], usata in ital. come s.m. (stat.) [verifica dei voti elettorali fatta, all uscita di seggi preselezionati, chiedendo a un… … Enciclopedia Italiana
exit poll — /eksitˈpol, ingl. ˈɛɡzɪtˌpəul/ [loc. dell ingl. d America, propr. «inchiesta (poll) all uscita (exit)»] loc. sost. m. inv. sondaggio, previsione … Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione
exit poll — ► NOUN ▪ a poll of people leaving a polling station, asking how they voted … English terms dictionary
exit poll — n. a poll taken of a small percentage of voters as they leave their voting places, with the pollster asking if they voted for or against certain candidates or issues … English World dictionary
exit poll — exit .poll n the activity of asking people how they have voted in an election in order to discover the likely result … Dictionary of contemporary English
exit poll — exit ,poll noun count a way of guessing the results of an election by asking people who have just finished voting who they voted for … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
exit poll — noun a poll of voters as they leave the voting place; usually taken by news media in order to predict the outcome of an election • Hypernyms: ↑poll, ↑opinion poll, ↑public opinion poll, ↑canvass * * * noun, pl ⋯ polls [count] : a method of… … Useful english dictionary