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Behind the Controversy: A Primer on U.S. Presidential Exit Polls

By Mark Lindeman and Rick Brady


Part III. A Select Bibliography of Exit Polling


Abboud, Alexandra. 2004. Absentee voters predicted to play greater role in 2004 election: Political parties see untapped potential in overseas, military voters. United States of America, Department of State.

Barnes, James A. 1994. Dueling exit polls. Public Perspective, 5:19-20.

Bishop, George F., and Bonnie S. Fisher. 1995. “Secret ballots” and self-reports in an exit-poll experiment. Public Opinion Quarterly 59: 568-88.

Blumenthal, M. 2005. The war room. Mystery Pollster.

———. 2005. AAPOR: Exit poll presentation. Mystery Pollster.

———. 2005. Professor M. Mystery Pollster.

———. 2005. The Liddle model that could. Note 2) Why are the reported completion rates suspect?

Brady, Henry E., Guy-Uriel Charles, Benjamin Highton, Martha Kropf, Walter R. Mebane, and Michael Traugott. 2004. Interim report on alleged irregularities in the United States presidential election of 2 November 2004. New York, NY: National Research Commission on Elections and Voting, A Project of the Social Science Research Council.

Brown, Steven D., David Docherty, Kimberly Ellis-Hale, Alisa Henderson, and Barry Kay. 2004. You’re leaving? Great! Exit polling in the 2003 Ontario general election. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 3-6.

Browning, E. S. 2004. Exit-poll chatter slams the brakes on stock rally. Wall Street Journal (eastern edition). New York, NY: November 3, C1.

Busch, Ronald J., and Joel A. Lieske. 1985. Does time of voting affect exit poll results? Public Opinion Quarterly 49, no. 1 (Spring): 94-104.

California Legislature, Senate, Select Committee on Citizen Participation in Government. 1985. Network projections and the use of exit polls in coverage of election returns: Testimony received at the hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Citizen Participation in Government, December 12, 1984, State Capital, Sacramento, California. Sacramento, CA: Copies from Joint Publications Office.

Corn, David. 2004. A stolen election? The Nation 279, no. 18 (November 29): 5-7.

CNN. 2001. Statement of CNN regarding future election night coverage.

Dreazen, Yochi. J. 2004. Election 2004: Brash blogs grab the lead again with early reports on exit polls. Wall Street Journal (eastern edition), November 3, A6.

Edelman, Murray, and Daniel M. Merkle. 1995. The impact of interviewer characteristics and election day factors on exit poll data quality. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Fort Lauderdale, FL, May 18-21.

Edelman, Murray, and Warren J. Mitofsky. n.d. The effect of the interviewer’s race in political surveys with multiracial candidates. Unpublished manuscript.

Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. 2005. Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky election system 2004.

Fitrakis, Bob, and Harvey Wasserman. 2005. Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings. (New York: The Free Press).

Frankovic, Kathleen A. 1992. Technology and the changing landscape of media polls. In Media polls in American politics, ed. Thomas E. Mann and Gary R. Orren. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.

Freeman, Steven F. 2004. The unexplained exit poll discrepancy.

Freeman, Steve. 2005. Polling bias or corrupted count? Accepted improbabilities and neglected correlations in 2004 US presidential exit poll data. Presented at the fall meeting of the American Statistical Association, Philadelphia chapter, October 14.

Groves, Robert M. 1989. Survey errors and survey costs. New York: John Wiley.

Harwood, John 2003. The California recall: Exit polls re-enter politics, as media try revamped system. Wall Street Journal (eastern edition), October 8, A8.

Hofrichter, Jürgen. 1999. Exit polls and election campaigns. In Handbook of political marketing, ed. Bruce I. Newman. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce. 2001. Election night coverage by the networks, February 14. Serial no. 107-25.

Konner, Joan, James Risser, and Ben Wattenberg. 2001. Television’s performance on election night 2000: A report for CNN.

Kyle, Susan, Douglas A. Samuelson, Fritz Scheuren, and Nicole Vicinanza with Scott Dingman and Warren Mitofsky. 2005. ESI brief? Analysis of the 2004 Ohio exit polls and election results.

Lang, Gladys Engle, and Kurt Lang. 1968. Politics and television. Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books.

———. 1984. Politics and television—re-viewed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Levy, Mark R. 1983. The methodology and performance of election day polls. Public Opinion Quarterly 47, no. 1 (Spring): 54-67.

Liddle, E. 2005. Edison/Mitofsky exit polls 2004: Differential non-response or votecount corruption?

Loo, Dennis. 2005. No paper trail left behind: The theft of the 2004 presidential election.

Lueck, Sarah. 2000. Internet, cable coverage give punch to the debate over use of exit polls. Wall Street Journal (eastern edition), March 9, A28.

Mebane, Walter R., Jr., and Michael C. Herron. 2005. Ohio 2004 election: Turnout, residual votes and votes in precincts and wards. Included in Part 6 of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute report, Democracy at risk: The 2004 election in Ohio

Merkle, Daniel, Murray Edelman, Kathy Dykeman, and Chris Brogan. 1998. An experimental study of ways to increase exit poll response rates and reduce survey error. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, St. Louis, Missouri, May 14-17.

Merkle, Daniel M., and Murray Edelman. 2000. A review of the 1996 Voter News Service exit polls from a total survey error perspective. In Election polls, the news media, and democracy, ed. Paul J. Lavrakas and Michael W. Traugott. New York, NY: Chatham House.

———. 2002. Nonresponse in exit polls: A comprehensive analysis. In Survey nonresponse, ed. Robert M. Groves, Don A. Dillman, John L. Eltinge, and Roderick J. A. Little. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Milavsky, J. Ronald, Al Swift, Burns W. Roper, and Floyd Abrams. 1985. Early calls of election results and exit polls: Pros, cons, and constitutional considerations. Public Opinion Quarterly 49, no. 1 (Spring): 1-18.

Mitofsky, Warren J. 1989. Presidential address. Methods and standards: A challenge for change. Public Opinion Quarterly 53, no. 3: 446-53.

———. 1991. A short history of exit polls. In Polling and Presidential Election Coverage, ed. Paul J. Lavrakas and Jack K. Holley. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

———. 1992. What went wrong with exit polling in New Hampshire.  Public Perspective 3, no. 3 (March/April): 17.

———. 1998. Review: Was 1996 a worse year for polls than 1948? Public Opinion Quarterly 62, no 2 (Summer): 230-49.

———. 2003. “Voter News Service after the fall.” Public Opinion Quarterly 67, no. 1 (Spring): 45-58.

Mitofsky, Warren, Joel Bloom, Joseph Lenski, Scott Dingman, and Jennifer Agiesta. 2005. A test of a combined RDD/registration-based sampling model in Oregon’s 2004 National Election Pool survey: Lessons from a dual frame RBS/RDD sample. Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, May 12-15, Miami Beach, Florida.

Mitofsky, Warren J., and Murray Edelman. 1995. A review of the 1992 VRS exit polls. In Presidential Polls and the News Media, ed. Paul J. Lavrakas, Michael W. Traugott, and Peter V. Miller. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

———. 2002. Election night estimation. Journal of Official Statistics 18, no. 2: 165-79.

Mitofsky, Warren J., and Joseph Waksberg. 1985. Election estimation from incomplete sample data. Paper presented at the Public Opinion Surveys and Electoral Forecasting conference, Sevilla, Spain, September 25-27.

Marks, Peter. 2000. Exit-poll data is held back to avoid leaks. New York Times (late edition, East Coast), March 8, A25.

Martin, Elizabeth A., Michael W. Traugott, and Courtney Kennedy. 2004. A review and proposal for a new measure of poll accuracy. Public Opinion Quarterly 69 (Fall): 642-54.

Morin, Richard. 2004. Surveying the damage: Exit polls can’t always predict winners, so don’t expect them to. Washington Post, November 21, B01.

Morris, Dick. 2004. Those faulty exit polls were sabotage. The Hill, November 4.

Mosteller, Frederick, Herbert Hyman, Philip J. McCarthy, Eli S. Marks, and David B. Truman. 1949. The pre-election polls of 1948: Report to the Committee on Analysis of Pre-election Polls and Forecasts. New York: Social Science Research Council.

Olbermann, K. 2004. Zogby v. Mitofsky.

Plissner, Martin, and Warren Mitofsky. 1982. Voting twice on election day. Public Opinion, August/September.

Radcliff, Benjamin. 2005. Exit polls. In Polling America: An encyclopedia of public opinion, ed. Samuel J. Best and Benjamin Radcliff, vol. 1 (A-O). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Rutenberg, Jim, and Felicity Barringer. 2003. Joint service for exit polls shuts down; networks say they plan new system for 2004. New York Times (late edition, East Coast), January 14, A23.

Sudman, Seymour. 1986. Do exit polls influence voting behavior? Public Opinion Quarterly, 50:331-39.

Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. 1993. The polls and the 1992 elections: A Public Perspective Symposium; Problems in exit polling; Interviews with Warren J. Mitofsky and John Brennan. Public Perspective 4, no. 2 (January/February): 19.

Tourangeau, Roger. 2004. Survey research and societal change. Annual Review Psychology 55:775-801.

Traugott, Michael, Benjamin Highton, and Henry E. Brady. 2005. A review of recent controversies concerning the 2004 presidential election exit polls. The National Research Commission on Elections and Voting.

Traugott, Michael W., and Vincent Price. 1992. A review: Exit polls in the 1989 Virginia gubernatorial race: Where did they go wrong? Public Opinion Quarterly 56 (Summer): 2, 245-53.


US Count Votes. 2005 Analysis of the 2004 presidential election exit poll discrepancies. National Election Data Archive Project.

———. 2005. The 2004 presidential election: Exit poll error or vote miscount? National Election Data Archive.

———. 2005. History of the debate surrounding the 2004 presidential election.



Mark Lindeman is an assistant professor in the political studies program at Bard College, and Rick Brady is an M.C.P. candidate in the School of Public Administration and Urban Studies at San Diego State University.


Part I. A Brief History of U.S. Exit Polls

Part II. Exit Polling Methods and Sources of Error



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