Understanding Exit Polls: An Explainer

Most election watchers know that exit polls provide important data that is in some way incorporated into how races are called. But what exactly is an exit poll, who conducts it, and how does it combine with the vote count in a particular race to determine the winner? ABC News' Robin Sproul helpfully explains:

ABC News and polling partners CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and The Associated Press jointly comprise the National Election Pool. The pool has contracted with Edison Research to run exit polls in 26 states this Election Day. The 26 state exit polls cover top statewide races, but not local or district level races. ...

Exit polls are surveys conducted as voters leave their polling places on Election Day. ... The "who won and why did they win" reporting on election night is gleaned mainly from exit poll results. ...

Exit polls, like any other survey, are subject to sampling errors. Before news organizations report any exit poll results or make projections, therefore, they compare results to pre-election polls, past precinct voting history, and have statisticians and political experts carefully review the data.

After the polls close the exit poll results are weighted using the actual vote count to make the data more accurate. Even projections that are made without any actual vote data are not based solely on the results of exit polls. ...

Read the full story at ABC News.

Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Politics

Just In