Dick Morris calls "foul play"

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Registered: 10-27-2004
Dick Morris calls "foul play"
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 2:33am
This article is written by a Republican, Dick Morris, discusses the statistical odds of the exit polls being so wrong in so many states... At the end of the article, he states: "This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play."


November 4, 2004

by Dick Morris

Those faulty exit polls were sabotage

By now it is well-known and a part of the 2004 election lore how the exit polls by the major television networks were wrong.

Likely this faux pas will assume its place among wartime stories alongside the mistaken calls on Florida’s vote for one side and then for the other in the 2000 election. But the inaccuracies of the media’s polling deserve more scrutiny and investigation.

Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state.

So reliable are the surveys that actually tap voters as they leave the polling places that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries. When I worked on Vicente Fox’s campaign in Mexico, for example, I was so fearful that the governing PRI would steal the election that I had the campaign commission two U.S. firms to conduct exit polls to be released immediately after the polls closed to foreclose the possibility of finagling with the returns. When the polls announced a seven-point Fox victory, mobs thronged the streets in a joyous celebration within minutes that made fraud in the actual counting impossible.

But this Tuesday, the networks did get the exit polls wrong. Not just some of them. They got all of the Bush states wrong. So, according to ABC-TV’s exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points.

To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here.

The mistaken exit polls infiltrated all three networks and the cable news outlets and had a chilling effect on the coverage of election night.

While all anchors refrained from announcing the exit-poll results, it was clear from the context of their comments that they expected Kerry to win and wondered if Bush could hold any key state.

Indeed, one network hesitated to call Mississippi for Bush because of the uncertainty injected by the bogus exit polls. Dark minds will suspect that these polls were deliberately manipulated to dampen Bush turnout in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones by conveying the impression that the president’s candidacy was a lost cause.

The exit pollsters plead that they oversampled women and that this led to their mistakes. But the very first thing a pollster does is weight or quota for gender. Once the female vote reaches 52 percent of the sample, one either refuses additional female respondents or weights down the ones one subsequently counted.

This is, dear Watson, elementary.

Next to the forged documents that sent CBS on a jihad against Bush’s National Guard service and the planned “60 Minutes” ambush over the so-called missing explosives two days before the polls opened, the possibility of biased exit polling, deliberately manipulated to try to chill the Bush turnout, must be seriously considered.

At the very least, the exit pollsters should have to explain, in public, how they were so wrong. Since their polls, if biased or cooked, represented an attempt to use the public airwaves to reduce voter turnout, they should have to explain their errors in a very public and perhaps official forum.

This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play.


Morris is the author of Rewriting History, a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 9:07am

So what is he implying...they were purposely skewed to give the edge to Senator Kerry?

I think that's being a bit paranoid.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2004
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 9:55am
I don't see any conspiracy here either. Was it wierd? Yes. As a Bush supporter was I worried? Yes.

The problem with that theory is that, if I heard in the morning that 'my guy' was behind, wouldn't that encourage me to get out and help? I heard that Kerry was ahead in the morning but it didn't stop me from going and voting in the afternoon.

Is it possible that exit-polls were skewed? Of course its POSSIBLE, just very highly unlikely.


Avatar for cl_mom2noodles
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Registered: 03-20-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 11:27am

It is very odd that the polls were so far off, but I too wonder in whose favor the alleged conspiracy was intended.


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2004
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 2:17pm
I agree-- it would not make any sense to mess with the results of the exit polls... I highly doubt that they were tampered with. Historically, the exit polls have been very accurate... much more so than the polls leading up to the election, because their samples are actual voters, not just would-be voters. The exit poll companies (Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research) are hired by a pooled fund that is shared by all of the major network news stations: FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, plus the Associated Press and some of the big radio stations as well. They all pool their resources and hire these two companies.)

The alternative is to consider that the exit polls were accurate, as usual, but that the voting tallies were inaccurate. I just watched a video clip of an MSNBC report from last night (Keith Oberman) describing bizarre voting irregularities in Florida that make no sense at all, statistically speaking. 29 counties with overwhelmingly Democrat registration suddenly voted for Bush on Nov. 2 by huge margins. These counties all had paper ballots that were SCANNED OPTICALLY by Diebold, a company that has been the subject of much controversy and skepticism (see my Keith Oberman post for links). Meanwhile, the Florida counties that DID NOT use optical scanning did not show any strange voting patterns... the counties with heavy democratic registration voted for Kerry. The counties with heavy Republican registration voted for Bush.

I'm glad that we have a democracy here-- if the Senate investigation that is underway shows that there are big flaws in the voting system that make fraud possible, then flaws will hopefully be corrected before our next big election.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 3:28pm

I am so distracted with your posts because your kids ar so doggone CUTE in your signature line!

But I have to say that a discrepancy in polling data vs actual election results does not a conspiracy make. It seems as though the pre-election polling was likely inaccurate, and I sincerely doubt that this was intentional by either candidate or their poltical party.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 3:29pm
I agree. Pollsters should make more of this story than voters, because it calls into question their methods of pre-determining our likely vote, not our vote itself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 3:33pm

There were pre-election and exit polls from all kinds of sources - some supposedly tainted by partisanship - but all of them ebbing and flowing until the actual moment of decision. I watched the news, and, as a supporter of PResident Bush, was also undettered in my vote by the early returns indicating that Senator Kerry had the lead in the northeast.

Here in California, our polls remain open well after half the nation has already been tallied, accounted for, and finished with the election. We have a unique perspctive to be seeing actual election votes for many states announced by the media BEFORE we ever vote in the election in question.


Avatar for munchies
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Registered: 04-12-2003
Wed, 11-10-2004 - 7:39pm

I'd like to see the final polls.

Kim mom to Brad, Matt, Emma, Sarah, and Meagan

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 11-11-2004 - 9:41am

I agree.