Friday, November 16, 2012

Pew Surveys vs Exit Polls

The fine folks at Pew have a new survey out, a post-election thing, and I just want to focus on one small sliver of their report.  The table is below.

Obviously it's to do with when voters made up their minds.  Let's compare this with exit polls of actual voters.  The times are not exactly compatible.  For the exit polls, for example, I collapsed "just today" with "in the last few days" to resemble Pew's "within a week."  It works fairly well, as you'll see below.

  Pew Survey Exit Polls
Near Election        8%      9%
After Debates       11%     11%
Before Debates       76%     78%
Don't Know         4%       2%

As you can see, the survey by Pew of 1,206 voters matches up damn well with the exit poll data collected from a much larger sample of voters as they left the ballot box last week.

What can we take away from this, other than Pew knows how to run a good survey?  Mainly that not many people made up their mind late in the game and those folks tended to split evenly between Obama and Romney -- thus negating the whole Hurricane Sandy hypothesis.  I will point out that among those who decided on Election Day, they cut 51-44 to Obama.  But those were only 3 percent of the electorate.

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