Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Exit Here

Sorry for the lack of Post-Decision Posts on this dreadful day, but I've been experiencing technical problems with posting, wasting valuable time I should have spent screaming in my sleep.

Weighty analysis of the election will have to await the dawn's early light. But I did want to explain the bizarre backstory of the odd tone of so much Election Night analysis in the blogosphere.

Us Washington Insiders, and many other Political Savvies, spent much of November 2 staring at black-market exit poll data that showed Kerry winning the popular and electoral vote. Throughout much of the evening, the networks seemed to be covering a different election, in which Bush was marching inexorably towards victory, and Kerry was only carrying the bluest of blue states.

Righteous in our wisdom, most of us Democratic Insiders spent hours shouting "Call New Hampshire! Call Pennsylvania!" at the nearest television, while phoning non-insider friends and family members to let them know the Red Tide on their living room screens was a chimera.

While many of those uncalled states did indeed eventually break to Kerry, the ironic truth is that all our unenlightened friends and family, bereft of exit poll data, had a better sense of what was actually happening than we did. Sic Transit Gloria, so to speak.

Alan Abramowitz has offered a quick read on why the exits were off, but the bottom line is that we all got bamboozled by the scientific mystique, and the special cache, of being able to know something that others would not know for, God, six or seven hours!

The folks at Edison who conducted the '04 exits quickly tried to atone for the embarassment they caused the chattering classes yesterday, by usefully re-weighting their data to reflect the actual results. This step preserves the value of the exits for their more legitimate and enduring use as tools for interpreting why voters did what they did, once it's clear what they did.
-- Posted at 6:07 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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