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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Election Exit Polls Are Eliminated in 19 States


The National Election Pool, the consortium created in 1990 that sponsors the exit polls for each election cycle, has decided for the first time in a presidential election year to reduce the number of states in which it will conduct surveys.

The consortium, which includes the television networks and The Associated Press, now contracts with Edison Research in Somerville, N.J., to survey voters nationally, within the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

The networks and The Associated Press have decided to omit exit poll in states deemed noncompetitive this year, taking into consideration the presidential, Senate and gubernatorial races, as well as referendums. Information about voters in those states â€" their age, race, sex and other pertinent data â€" will not be available for the future.

In 2010, the National Election Pool did something similar; it conducted exit polls in about half the states. Th is year, there will be exit polls in 31 states.

Increased cost is the driving force for the cutback. The budget for the exit polls is about the same as four years ago, according to Daniel Merkle, director of elections at ABC News, and a member of the committee that manages the National Election Pool. “We are simply shifting resources to get the best coverage we can: beefing up the national sample, beefing up the telephone polls, beefing up the battleground states,” he said.

More than 30 states have started early voting, requiring telephone polling to supplement the in-person election-day surveys. This year, the consortium has included plans to conduct telephone polls in 15 states, which adds to the cost of surveying a state. And the increased use of cellphones adds to the cost of telephone surveys.

The excluded states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ok lahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Some precincts from these states will, however, be included in a broader national exit survey, so that voters in these states will be represented. The National Election Pool has increased the number of precincts sampled in the national survey to 350 this year from 300 in 2008.

The National Election Pool's decision to reduce the number of states it surveys this year was first reported on The Washington Post's Web site. The exit polls are now conducted for the National Election Pool by Edison Research. The New York Times is not a part of the consortium, but it and other news media organizations are subscribers to the surveys.