Captain's Quarters Blog

« Gregoire By Eight: Dems | Main | Ohio Recount Results In Little Change »

December 22, 2004
Obsessed By Polling (Updated)

I used to chastise Bill Clinton for his obsession with polling data before making decisions, but the current crop of Democratic leaders put Bill to shame. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, demanded the raw exit-polling data from the 2004 election, saying that it will prove intentional voter disenfranchisement:

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan said in a letter released Tuesday in Washington that the polling firms that conducted the polls on behalf of the news organizations, Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research, had declined to share the information with the committee.

"Without the raw data, the committee will be severely handicapped in its efforts to show the need for serious election reform in the United States," Conyers said in the letter. ...

Conyers' letter said the exit poll information could help determine whether there is evidence "of voting irregularities that occurred as a result of poor election practices and intentional voter disenfranchisement."

First the Democrats attacked the actual ballot counts in Ohio, demanding recounts in 88 counties even though Kerry lost by 119,000 votes. When that proved fruitless, they revert back to the exit-polling data that first gave them hope that their hopeless candidate would win the election -- the incomplete, half-assed numbers that even the pollers said had no predictive value. The Democrats value exit polling more than the actual vote.

Let's explain this to Rep. Conyers, and let's use small words so he can comprehend understand get it. Exit polling samples voters who cast ballots. Pollsters do not talk to every single person walking out of every single precinct. In fact, they tend to poll in larger precincts because they have a better chance of getting responses. Typically, they poll a couple of thousand voters in each state, if they can. In Ohio, that would amount to 0.03% of the voters.

Now, that can be useful for demographics -- er, sorry, Rep. Conyers, that's a big word. It means that we can see how votes broke out by economic and ethnic divisions. Exit polling has been shown over and over again to be unreliable in predicting winners of elections, especially since the networks all decided to create one shared polling group rather than do their own individual exit polling. In fact, the VNS and the NEP have yet to get it right, even once, in the past three election cycles.

But here's the big point, Rep. Conyers: America took its own poll on November 2nd, and that was the one that actually used ballots. We don't take samples to determine elections. We actually send people to cast votes, and we tell them when and where to do it. Perhaps you've heard of this. When the day is over, we count the ballots and figure out who won. We don't go out and ask 2,000 people who they think won.

If any of this confused you, Rep. Conyers, then please let us know. Next time, we'll draw pictures -- and afterwards, maybe you can take a nap to rest up after such a busy day.

UPDATE: Thomas Bray at the Detroit News takes Conyers to the woodshed over his umbrage at Ohio while overlooking the incompetence in his own back yard (via Memeorandum):

If Conyers was so concerned about voting problems, where was he in 1998 when election officials in his hometown of Detroit took a disgraceful two weeks to count ballots due to lost poll books and miscounting of precinct totals?

Where was he in 2001 when the counting of absentee ballots in Detroit had to be halted in midstream by state officials after it was discovered that the city clerk was simply ignoring state requirements for the use of software that would eject ballots that couldn't be read by machine?

And where was he when a memo allegedly drafted by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's aides in 2002 claimed that Detroit's voter rolls were overstated by about 150,000 people -- a strong hint that something may be seriously amiss in the Detroit election process, threatening the value of the ballot for people who are genuinely qualified to vote?

Conyers' outrage appears to be highly selective. The target of his investigative demand -- a demand in which he has been joined by Jesse Jackson and others -- is the Ohio secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, who is black and Republican. In other words, he is one of those non-conforming minorities who is threatening to bust up the liberal plantation from which Conyers and others earn a handsome living.

In the spirit of fairness, then, let's call for a federal investigation into the chronic voting irregularities in John Conyers' district. If Conyers truly wants to assure voters that all votes will count, he should have no problem approving of such a probe.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 22, 2004 5:29 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!