No, Exit Polls Don’t Show The 2004 Election Was Rigged

One of the tinfoil hat theories on the left that has gotten a lot of play is that the 2004 election was rigged. That theory started getting wide play shortly after Kerry lost the election, but factual support for it has always been incredibly thin.

There are, of course, screw-ups that happen in every election and discredited studies that have been offered up as proof, but the thing most leftie conspiracy theorists have latched onto are the exit polling numbers which showed ENORMOUS leads for Kerry in every swing state when they first leaked out (although Kerry’s lead shrank quite a bit in exit polls released later in the day).

The latest leftie beating this drum is boxing broadcaster Jim Lampley, over at the Huffington Post. Here’s his “reasoning:”

“Make no mistake: my argument is that the final official vote tally is anything but accurate, that it is the product of massive vote fraud carried out through the programing of Diebold voting machines and various other machinations aimed at suppressing, destroying or losing Kerry votes. My argument is that what were accurate were the exit polls. As one Ivy League research methodologist has noted, “Apparently the pollsters at Mitofsky and Edison have found it more expedient to provide an explanation unsupported by theory, data or precedent than to impugn the machinery of American democracy.”

Various statisticians have reported that the odds on the occurrence of variances from exit polls to actual results such as were produced in this election range up to 959 000 to 1. Sounds like DNA. As US Count Votes notes in a statistical abstract, “No matter how one calculates it, the discrepancy cannot be attributed to chance.”

So let me put it in Foxspeak. If all the circumstantial evidence related to potential vote fraud in this election were gathered up into one big file for the Scott Peterson jury, they’d convict. The jury that might look at all this and acquit? O.J. Simpson. Politics make strange bedfellows.”

To begin with, as Byron York noted in his response, the exit pollsters themselves say they got it wrong. Via Byron York, here’s Warren Mitofsky, the “father of exit polling,” and the man whose company supervised the polling:

“Our analysis of the exit polls suggests that we had slightly better cooperation from the Kerry voters than from the Bush voters. In other words, the non-response was not even. There was some unevenness to it. And it favored Kerry.”

So Mitofsky admits his numbers were off and that they favored Kerry. Really, that shouldn’t surprise anybody at this point, given that we now know that “exit polls have been off by large amounts in 4 of the last 5 Presidential elections and have leaned towards the Democrats every time.” Furthermore, the final percentage exit polling was off in 2004 (5.5%) was smaller than the margin of error in 1988 (8.3%), 1992 (7.2%), & 1996 (6.2%).

Moreover, just to make sure nobody forgets, Bush’s win wasn’t some shocking upset. About a week before the election, RWN polled right-of-center bloggers not on whom they wanted to win the election, but on whom they actually thought would win. The results? 93% picked Bush. The early voting totals from across the country? They favored Bush (CBS pegged it at 51-43 & Harris had Bush up 50-46). The final polls in the two key swing states of Florida & Ohio? Bush went 4-1-1 in Florida polls and 6-0 in Ohio polls. So although the election was certainly close, Bush, not Kerry, looked like the stronger candidate heading into the final week.

Just to sum it all up, the exit polls don’t show that the vote was rigged in the 2004 election. Anyone who tells you otherwise either has his facts wrong at best or at worst is trying to mislead you…

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