Will Someone in the Press Prematurely Project Obama the Winner Based on Dem-Dominated 31-State Exit Polls?
So the meme is supposedly set. Final pre-election expectations are that the popular vote in the 2012 presidential contest will come in roughly deadlocked. Rasmussen and Gallup show Republican nominee Mitt Romney up by one point. Other polls show either a tie or slight lead for incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.
Set against this expectation, don't be surprised if someone in the press, perhaps even at one of the big networks, gets overexcited and projects Barack Obama the winner based on Tuesday's early exit polls without realizing that their scope and design have changed from previous presidential elections in two fundamental ways.
In early October, in a development which received far less notice than it should have, the organizations who conduct exit polling disclosed that they will no longer attempt to blanket the country, and will devote more effort to early voters:
Networks, AP cancel exit polls in 19 states
Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning. >>>
The matter of which states were dropped and selected for continued inclusion is interesting, to say the least, especially when one looks at their 2008 presidential election status and the number of 2012 electoral votes involved.
Imagine that. The exit pollsters have excluded only four tiny 2008 Obama-favoring enclaves (three states and DC) with less than 4 million people and only 14 electoral votes, while casting aside 16 McCain-supporting states with about 24% of the nation's population and 149 electoral votes, well over half of the 270 needed for victory. How convenient.
Why exclude deep-red Texas but not deep-blue, heavily populated, and likely non-competitive California, Illinois, or New York?
Despite what ABC's Merkel has said about the continued existence of a true "national exit poll," it seems pretty likely that news organizations will be receiving "overall" demographic-driven exit polling results from the 31 included states similar in appearance to ones presented in previous years which included the entire country. They will clearly show Obama leading Romney (if they don't, we're looking at a Romney landslide of epic proportions). >>>
In short, though I hope I'm wrong, all of this looks like it has the potential to create accidental or deliberate Election Night confusion which favors the incumbent. Given the establishment press's comprehensively dishonest and biased conduct during the 2012 presidential campaign, it would be foolish to discount that possibility.
Should we brace for Chris Matthews declaration of Obamas landslide victory?