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GOP Wants News Organizations to Abandon Exit Polls

Nov 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

After early exit polls in Tuesday’s election inaccurately suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry would trounce President Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is recommending that major news organizations pull the plug on the prognostications.

In remarks Thursday at the National Press Club, Mr. Gillespie said he is among those who were stunned by exit poll reports, which leaked widely on the Internet. “I would encourage the media to abandon exit surveys on Election Day and do what we do in the political profession — look at the precincts and the turnout, see who’s turning out to vote,” Mr. Gillespie said. “Don’t build a model that you try to, you know, build your own thoughts into of what you expect it to be.”

Mr. Gillespie conceded that the exit polls weren’t reported directly by major news organizations themselves. “But with the Internet today, we’re kidding ourselves, aren’t we, to think that everybody in America doesn’t know what the exit data is showing?” he said.

He also said he was personally affected by the early reports, discouraged by what he was seeing. “But I’ve been through this before,” he said. “In 2000 the exit data was wrong on Election Day. In 2002, the exit returns were wrong on Election Day. And in 2004, the exit data were wrong on Election Day — all three times, by the way, in a way that skewed against Republicans and had a dispiriting effect on Republican voters across the country.”