Friday, January 21, 2005

The 2004 Vote

A University of Pennsylvania professor named Steve Freeman made quite a stir in left-wing circles by writing a short paper a while back proving that (a) there was a discrepancy between the 2004 exit polls and the actual outcome, and (b) after statistical analysis, this discrepancy could not "have been due to chance or random error." Such a result, of course, could have been due to systematic (i.e., non-random) error in the exit polls, but Freeman cited a few sources as supposedly proving that exit polls never lie. His conclusion was that the actual vote was fraudulent.

The exit polling firms involved -- Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International -- just released a report yesterday that refutes Freeman's conspiratorial analysis. Among their findings:

(1) Page 3: As one might have guessed by applying Occam's razor, the simplest explanation turned out to be true: The error in the exit polls was "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters."

(2) Page 4: "Exit polls do not support the allegations of fraud due to rigging of voting equipment. Our analysis of the difference between the vote count and the exit poll at each polling location in our sample has found no systematic differences for precincts using touch screen and optical scan voting equipment. We say this because these differences are similar to the differences for punch card voting equipment, and less than the difference for mechanical voting equipment."

Stuart Buck


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