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Discord Over Exit Strategy

On Election Night last month, there was much consternation over misleading exit polls, but soon the conventional wisdom set in: Ignorant, irresponsible bloggers disseminating early numbers had generated the deceptive Kerry-in-a-cakewalk rumors. News organizations that form the National Election Pool (NEP) encouraged the perception that, if only the exit polling had remained in their control, everything would have been fine.

Not so fast. An executive from one NEP-member organization is still fuming over the exit polling, and is alarmed by how few repercussions there have been for what amounted to a journalistic near-disaster. He thinks bloggers were scapegoated and the problem really lies with exit pollers Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research. He points out that early projections for 11 states were off by as much as 20%, a mistake that had news outfits misallocating resources to report a Kerry win.

The NEP is reviewing its election performance and will release a report in mid-January. But the frustrated news exec says the lack of a plausible explanation for the skewed numbers six weeks after the election is worrisome: “The American people deserve to know what happened.” In a statement, the NEP says it looks forward to the report. They're not the only ones.