Exit Polls exit poll

Exit Polls

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What is an Exit Poll?

When it’s about the election, an exit poll is all everyone talks about. In simple terms, election exit polls are the poll of voters taken after people exit from voting stations on the day of the election. 

During the time of the election, people are eager for information. Pollsters conduct exit polls using voter’s responses about their choices and project how the election turned out even before the ballot reveals the real result. Pollsters are generally private organizations or companies working in association with newspapers and/or media. 

Exit polls, unlike opinion polls, gather information on who people voted in favor of instead of who they intend to favor. The pollsters or surveyors approach this direction of poll information because real outcomes may take hours or days to tally. Once the votes are added, the media and newspapers explain the outcome on the grounds of exit polls. 

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How reliable are Exit Polls?

Exit poll, while primarily used to understand the outcome of election results or predict them, is also used to figure out the reason behind their vote. Exit polls are rendered reliable to collect demographic data of the voters. 

Election voting has always been conducted namelessly, but exit polls can confirm who has cast their vote. Exit polls also provide statistical data to understand the voter’s decision on why they cast their vote on the ballot. Also, exit polls have been used for a long time as a rough indicator against any decision misrepresentation and election fraud. 

However, exit polls also face issues like the most popular of all, “1992 UK General Election”. The error caused by exit polls in this election was that the poll was predicted to have a hung parliament. Still, after the final result, John Major’s Conservative Party Government held the position. 

Exit polls rely on the people who went to the voting station to vote. The surveyors can’t reach those who cast their vote by postal ballot and absentee voting. This often causes a vast difference between exit polls results and final results. Hence, pollsters must consider such factors to gather a more accurate exit poll result.

Functioning of Exit Polls

  • The first step in conducting exit polls is to categorize sample size, which races to operate in, and what questions to ask. 
  • The organization must also be equipped with a social research survey tool for gathering data and analyzing it.
  • The organization will then research the polling station’s location, the voting duration, and what the rules are in those states or districts. 
  • Next, the organization allots one or more (depends on the organization) interviewers in each zone from the time polls open until a little before they close. The interviewer conducts the exit polls on the voters. The frequency of how many voters are interviewed depends on the organization. 
  • The data gathered by the interviewers are sent to the organization, where they are tallied and sent to broadcasting channels and newspapers.
  • The questionnaires in exit polls primarily include questions on demographics, their opinion on candidates, and when they decided to vote. The voters themselves fill out the questionnaire. The questionnaire and exit polls are confidential.

For example, the National Election Pool informs their interviewer to talk to every third or fifth voter. They aim to conduct 100 to 150 interviews. NEP will stop the interviewer three times a day and take the exit polls results to tally them. Edison Media Research conducts exit polls for NEP. 

When NEP conducts their questionnaires, the interviewers are instructed to record visually the age, gender, and race of those who declined to participate. This helps in the tally of the result. The NEP reports the exit polls data after the tallies, refusals, and questionnaires are processed.

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