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New exit poll numbers! (Oy.)

By Jon Cohen

If you're like any of the pundits trolling Washington or one of your screens, you now have a well-rehearsed tale about how the Republicans won back control of the House last week. Perhaps you pepper your story with exit poll scripture, just as they do.

Republican House candidates won independents by 18 points, you declare. Most voters - 54 percent - said they disapprove of the way President Obama is doing his job. Fully 41 percent of all voters said they are conservative, the most ever to say so on an exit poll. You say that just 11 percent of voters were aged 18 to 29, the lowest ever.

What an authority!

Well, now a week later, you can forget those numbers. You have new ones to memorize.

The exit pollsters updated their numbers Tuesday, adjusting for the (near) final vote tallies across the country. This is standard procedure, but threatens a Hal-like numbers overload as they're coming, for the first time, a full week after an election.

In 2008, updates in several states happened 10 days after Election Day. The fine-tuning is done to make the exit polls more accurate as the local election offices finalize their vote counts.

Don't worry: you don't have to change your narrative about election 2010. If your favorite, go-to numbers shifted at all, they only moved by a point or two from what were on your flashcards last week. But you do have some work to do.

For example: Republican House candidate won independent voter by 19 percentage points. Some 55 percent of voters said they disapprove of Obama's job performance, and 42 percent of the electorate identified as conservative.

Also little changed, is that voters under 30 made up 12 percent of the electorate. That's the same proportion younger voters made up in 2006, not a single-point lower as previously and widely reported. This change means practically nothing statistically or substantively, and points to the broad-based over-interpretation of small margins in exit polls. But that's another story.

By Jon Cohen  | November 10, 2010; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Exit polls  | Tags:  2010, election, exit polls, midterms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Exit poll: big shift among independents
Next: Voters send mixed messages on earmarks


The trouble with exit polling is that it does not address those who did not vote. In a mid-term, when less than 50% turnout is the norm, this can be very misleading as a measure of public sentiment.
Of course, there is also that unmeasured percentage of people who DID vote, but had no interest in participating in an exit poll, which we should realize, is voluntary.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | November 10, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that a large number of voters disagreed with job done by Democrats and Obama. Did anyone think to ask the reason they disapprove? Could it be they are fed-up with the way the three branches operate. The bickering, log jamming, filibustering, cow-towing to special interests, and the failure to regulate banks, unions, insurance companies and businesses. Unfortunately the voters were unduly influenced by bias "journalism" and special interests campaigns. They did what many voters do when they are angry, frightened and depressed, they voted with either with their feet (not voting) or against those in charge. As a result they put the same party back in power. Consequently we will face a system in which bickering, filibustering and special interest influence will mushroom. Regulators will be hobbled and vital health, climate, energy laws will be stalled, repealed or ignored.

Posted by: MyVoice3 | November 11, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

..THE TAX CUT NOBODY HEARD OF, by Michael Cooper

"HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — What if a president cut Americans’ income taxes by $116 billion and nobody noticed?

"It is not a rhetorical question. At Pig Pickin’ and Politickin’, a barbecue-fed rally organized here last week by a Republican women’s club, a half-dozen guests were asked by a reporter what had happened to their taxes since President Obama took office...."

Read the rest, at the following link:

This president steered us out of a depression that the Republicans put us into and helped the middle class. What did the Republicans do? Nothing but attempt to destroy him. They refer to their win as "repudiation" while they make other self-aggrandizing claims and even while claiming that another $680 billion "afforded" to billionaires in a ten-year time period will be good for the country. It didn't create a job surge LAST time they greased billionaires' palms with our money (and greased their own in return with theirs), and it isn't going to benefit us now. There is no justification.

As a matter of fact, if people hadn't been duped by the misinformation campaign that refers to itself as a "news" station, there would have been no justification for their win.

The president of Fox "News" is Roger Ailes. Anybody who knows who Roger Ailes is realizes that if you do, then you would not be in your right mind to believe that Fox "News" is news station.

And - unless you are a billionaire - you can look forward to your annual income decreasing. Congratulations!

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 15, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

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