What the Exit Polls Teach Us

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jon Cohen, polling director for the Washington Post, discusses what exit polls tell us about how and why people voted, and how that compares to recent analysis.


Jon M. Cohen

Comments [25]

Amy from Manhattan

John from Brooklyn, as a voter who does try to do enough research before voting, I agree that it's difficult to find out enough to base a vote on. But we do have more resources these days, like the Politifact & Fact-check websites, WNYC's It's a Free Country site, & the ability to play back Brian's candidate interviews & 30 Issues series. And if we don't vote because of lack of time/energy to find the info we need, that leaves the result up to the ones who are swayed by attack ads & crazed rhetoric.

Nov. 04 2010 11:42 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

@ John from Brooklyn
It's politics, there are no "normal" people. The reason so vote is to elect a fallible human who is trying to do what you think is the right thing, not the 2nd Coming. You're waiting for a superman that doesn't exist in the real world. Man up! Vote.

Nov. 04 2010 11:41 AM
The Truth from Becky

Now that everyone has the "right" to vote the mindset needs to be shifted to the importance and "responsibility" of voting.

Nov. 04 2010 11:34 AM
Judy from NJ

I voted. I support the Presdient. I am disappointed by the Republicans unwilling to work with Democrats. I am disappointed with the media. I am disppointed with the electorate not giving this train wreck of an economy some time to turn around. Finally and most importanly our nation is fighting two wars-I am especially disappointed of how that discussion was absent from conversations during this election.

Nov. 04 2010 11:30 AM
John from Brooklyn

To Susan and Mark and Leah and others' point: the fact that you vote simply to keep a-holes out of power indicates how ridiculous this system has gotten. Voting is no longer about electing people who will get things done; it's about party affiliation and electing the lesser of two a-holes. I'll vote as soon as I hear a normal person get up and cut through the party hive-mind dogma and speak to me like I'm a citizen, rather than a democrat or republican. I'm so sick of hearing those two words.

Nov. 04 2010 11:30 AM
Mason from NYC

Why would things in Albany or Washington change when 75% of the people eligible to vote do not vote? Why do I hear about it in your "right to vote" and next to nothing about it is a responsibility to vote? This is what annoys me with elections.

Nov. 04 2010 11:28 AM
Edward from NJ

Are the self-righteous non-voters just covering up for their own laziness? Yeah, you're busy and they're all bums, blah, blah, blah. It's one day of the year, and one of them is less of a bum.

Nov. 04 2010 11:27 AM

You need to mention the amount that voter registration dropped since Acorn and similar organisations have been bullied out of existence. Poorly educated or ESL citizens have again been disenfranchised thanks to a long-term strategy of intimidation on the right.

There's a great sketch from "Beyond the Fringe" where Alan Bennett is describing the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans to an English Person: "Well the Republicans are like our Conservative Party, and the Democrats are like our....Conservative Party." That sums it up for me.

Nov. 04 2010 11:27 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Voting no longer seems to be supported as an important civic duty and election days are treated as any other day but with this enormous responsibility rolled in. My son's school schedules parent visiting day on Nov 2 every voting cycle and work places are not routinely closed. It's difficult for working people to actually have enough time to go out and vote. Something to consider....

Nov. 04 2010 11:26 AM
Chris from Queens

I heard that when people were exit polled, their choices were limited; I feel that the media is determining the narrative they want before listening to voters.


The poll also asked what was the most important issue facing the country: 1) the War in Afghanistan, 2) the economy or 3) health care reform. That was it. Three choices only. That was it. Needless to say I was shocked.

Nov. 04 2010 11:26 AM
The Truth from Becky

Precisely why this makes no sense, you segregated Blacks into a number and then you gave a number for "the suburbs" Brian, where are you placing the Black or minority person that lives in the suburbs genius? This is why stats make no sense!

Nov. 04 2010 11:25 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I will *never* not vote, as long as I'm physically able to. If things ever get to the point where there's not even 1 candidate or question I can bring myself to vote for, I will scan in a blank ballot (or whatever the technology is at the time!) so my non-vote will be recorded.

Nov. 04 2010 11:25 AM
Unheard from NYC

Apparently 40% of America are idiots.

Nov. 04 2010 11:23 AM
Susan from New York

People who don't vote for whatever reason are just plain irresponsible. Those who control the resources in this country count on you not voting.

Nov. 04 2010 11:22 AM
Mark from nyc

Don't all these non-voters know that's what the powers that be want, a complacent electorate.

Nov. 04 2010 11:22 AM

Every year, I'm astonished at the differences in how elections are run from state to state . Especially the hours the poles are open. NY open to 9 pm; NJ closes at 8 p.m. But in Kentucky poles close at 6 pm. Just think how many people wouldn't have time to vote if NY poles closed at 6 pm. It will never happen but I think poles should be open for the same number of hours across the country.

Nov. 04 2010 11:21 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

When people complain that they don't vote because they're angry, frustrated, or disillusioned I just shake my head. No one has successfully changed the tone or the agenda by self-disenfranchising. And when you consider how many people (racial and ethnic minorities and women especially) faced obstacles much more daunting than an early closing time (!), it's truly a shame that people take their franchise so much for granted.

Nov. 04 2010 11:19 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

These people who didn't vote kill me. What pussys! Come on, we all know politics is screwed up, but so is a lot of this country. The point is that you still have to be responsible and get out and do your part. Man up!

Nov. 04 2010 11:17 AM
Mary from Manhattan

One vote does not make a difference, so it's not worth the inconvenience. Even exceptionally close elections typically come down to several hundred votes. The common response that democracy wouldn't work if everyone saw it this way is true but irrelevant. The only real argument in favor of voting is if you feel it is your civic duty.

Nov. 04 2010 11:17 AM
matt from lic, queens

i can't vote because i don't know what i'm voting for. the power structure in this country -- even in local politics -- is so entirely opaque that you can never know what you are actually voting for when you put yourself behind a "representative."

Nov. 04 2010 11:17 AM
John from Brooklyn

I just heard Brian say that only 42% of Americans "bothered to fill in a bubble to exercise their democratic rights" with a rather condescending tone. I have to say that it's not quite as easy as simply filling in the bubble. I would venture to say that the reason the participation rate is so low is that there are so many candidates, issues, laws, politics, rumors, debates, news stories, and lies to keep up with - that to stay fully informed as a voter would become a full-time job. Since most of us already have one (or more) of those, among other responsibilities, I'd say there's simply not enough time or energy left in the day to bother.

Nov. 04 2010 11:15 AM
Susan from NYC

I remember hearing some pundit who sounded credible say that 45% of the electorate is reliably democratic, 45% republican, and the fight is always over the remaining 10%. That would leave the majority of the difference to turnout. Could your guest address this?

Nov. 04 2010 11:11 AM
The Truth from Becky

Brian you are throwing around a lot of numbers and stats etc...bottom line, the President still has a huge part of the Country's support. FYI...real people don't give a darn about stats! They are of no use in the real world and since I have never been polled..I know they are not accurate.

Nov. 04 2010 11:10 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why are people such mindless parrots? If I hear "shelacking" again today I fear I shall throw up!

Nov. 04 2010 11:08 AM

the country still seems divided to me. i see no tea bagger mandate. a lot of races were almost 50- 50. the prez still has at least 45% of the country supporting him.

and what to the republicats want. tax cuts but which programs will they cut to pay for this?

Nov. 04 2010 10:53 AM

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