Exit polls, the notoriously inaccurate in-person survey of voters at polling places, could be vanishing under a plan announced today by the Associated Press.
The AP says it will replace its exit polling system after 2016 exit polls appeared to favor Hillary Clinton.
The announcement is significant because the Associated Press pools resources with ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News for exit polling.
The results were so inconsistent that the news organization’s Washington bureau chief threw them out on election night and ordered reporters and writers to use only actual election returns.
Instead, the AP use a combination of online polling and telephone calls to sample voters, it said.
The poll’s methodology allows for results from every state holding a statewide election, Scott said, as well as details about the opinions of registered voters who elect not to cast a ballot. AP’s approach will deliver to customers more reliable information on what drives the choices of different segments of the electorate than is available from traditional exit polls, Scott said.
Unlike the exit poll, VoteCast won’t use people with clipboards seeking to buttonhole voters after they leave polling places, an approach AP argues is no longer appropriate in an era when 40 percent of the electorate votes early, absentee or by mail. That percentage is growing in every election, Buzbee said.
There’s also concern that in-person exit polls, in a polarized political climate, fail to capture the opinion of all voters. In the roughest years for the accuracy of exit polls, 2004 and 2016, the surveys showed a stronger vote for the Democratic presidential candidates than actually took place.
AP said it successfully tested the approach that would become AP VoteCast in three statewide elections last year. Among them, a special election for U.S. Senator in Alabama in which the poll predicted Democrat Doug Jones would beat Republican Roy Moore 50 to 47 percent. The actual tally was 50 to 48 percent.
FoxNews and the Washington Post are joining in the effort.
ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC will continue to use the traditional exit polling methods.