January 20, 2005
YET WE LET THEM VOTE?:
Study Cites Human Failings in Election Day Poll System: A study concluded that the polling system erroneously showed John Kerry to be leading the presidential race
because of more human variables. (JACQUES STEINBERG, 1/20/05, NY Times)
The new system was constructed after a precursor, the Voter News Service, contributed to the networks' calling of Florida in the 2000 election first for Al Gore, then for George W. Bush, then for neither.) Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2005 7:38 AM
While the new system avoided those pitfalls, the researchers found that their projections overstated the votes won by Mr. Kerry in 26 states, while overstating the votes won by Mr. Bush in four.
The system was not without its technical glitches on Election Day. For example, the research firms found that at least in the early afternoon, the system "overstated the proportion of women in the electorate," a problem apparently caused by a programming error.
In positing why the overstatements of Mr. Kerry's performance were so pronounced, the researchers said they were convinced that the technical foundation on which their work was based was sound.
Instead, the report concluded that at least some of the breakdown was rooted in the "interactions" between some pollsters and some voters. In general, the surveys appeared to overrepresent younger voters, who tended to vote for Mr. Kerry, and to underrepresent older voters, who tended to vote for Mr. Bush.
In analyzing the results, the researchers were careful to indicate that there was no evidence that the surveyors had embarked on any conscious effort to skew the vote.
The researchers focused instead on the median age of the surveyors, 34, and they hypothesized that perhaps younger voters felt more comfortable than older voters submitting questionnaires to younger surveyors.