Exit polls can be addictive for those who can't take Election Day suspense, but poll analyst Nate Silver recommends you resist the temptation. Here's why:
- Exit polls have high margins of error because they are taken at only a few precincts in a state.
- Exit polls overstated Democratic support in the 2000 and 2004 elections.
- Exit polls overstated Obama’s support by an average of 7 points in the primary season.
- Theoretically, exit polls are a random sampling of the precinct because the pollster approaches every nth voter to leave, but in practice this is hard to stick to.
- Democrats are more likely to agree to take exit polls, especially when enthusiasm in the party is high.
- It is difficult for exit polls to adjust their results to reflect early voters.
- It is common for exit polls to miss those who voted late in the day.
- “Leaked” exit polls may be fabricated or may be so early that they have small sample sizes.
- High turnout, especially among groups who usually vote in low numbers, may not conform to the exit polls' turnout predictions and skew their precinct sampling.
- You can just wait a few hours and get the real results.