About Last Night

One thing to say about last night’s results is that I hope we can someday put to rest this business of misusing and over-interpreting early exit polls. At this point, it’s very well established that these polls have a marked tendency to oversample young voters and thus produce erroneously optimistic forecasts about Democrats running against Republicans or about Obama running against Clinton. Nevertheless, media circles are constantly awash in this information and if you have it in front of you, you can watch it influencing the live coverage on the TV networks as the hosts find themselves surprised when the polls turn out to be wrong.

It’s dumb. It’s not even that the methodology behind exit polling doesn’t work. Rather, part of the methodology involves taking some time, getting further data, doing some re-weighting and so forth, etc. There’s no excuse for perpetually acting shocked that the early exit polls don’t forecast the outcome.