On Election Day, we will get some sense of how Americans voted from exit polling. The five major TV networks and the AP pay a company called Edison Research to do the National Election Exit Polls.
In the past, pollsters quite literally asked voters whom they voted for as they exited precincts, but this year, it will be different.
Joe Lenski, who co-founded Edison Research, says his company will employ more than 3,000 people on Election Day.
“That’s exit poll interviewers,” he says. “That’s sample precinct vote count reporters. That’s supervisors. That’s telephone room operators that are taking in the data.”
But this year, that staff will be more-heavily concentrated in certain places — swing states, to be precise. Lenski says Edison Research is focusing on “where the news story is.”
“We have decreased the sample sizes in states that are less competitive,” he says. So states that are solidly red or solidly blue won’t be polled as heavily.
That troubles Matt Baretto, a political science professor at the University of Washington. He worries we’ll get a false view of the national electorate.
“We are now stuck with one Election Night poll, one exit poll,” Baretto says. “And I think that’s dangerous.”
Barreto sees an opportunity for other pollsters to compete, although he estimates exit polls cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
Lenski, at Edison Research, says he has tweaked his methodology to better reflect the number of Americans who vote early or absentee.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.