Thursday, November 04, 2004
I absolutely agree with Slate's rationale for posting exit poll numbers. However, once you get to that point, you don't have statisticians interpreting the numbers, but lay people.
As it happens, Kerry did carry Pennsylvania. In Florida he lost by two points instead of winning by two points. Far from being wildly off the mark, that variance is about par for the course, or even under par, for a mid-afternoon reading of an exit poll. Indeed, Tuesday's exit-poll numbers were no more off the mark than were those of four, eight, or 12 years ago.
That's why the people who bought and paid for this intelligence kept it to themselves. Bill Wheatley, an NBC executive who understands these things, told the New York Times Wednesday that early afternoon numbers from an exit poll are "junk." Slate and the other Web sites on which these numbers appeared yesterday afternoon have every right in the world to get them however they can and publish them. But it's hard to pin the blame for the dissemination of these numbers on those who tried so hard to keep them secret.
Mind Poison, your Slate digest.