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Potomac Primary Results Watch

Topics: 2008 , CBS , CNN , Exit Polls , Mark Lindeman , MSNBC

Live blogging will be light tonight (hopefully), to add whatever value we can to the much more current news you can get on television or major news sites.

First, here are the usual official exit poll links: MSNBC, CNN, CBS.

Second, Mark Lindeman has been running extrapolations for us each primary night using the publicly available exit poll cross-tabulations to get the overall estimate used to weight data. These overall numbers reflect the estimate the exit pollsters have the most confidence in at any moment. They are based on some combination of exit polls and pre-election polls as the polls close; they are based increasingly on a sample of actual vote returns as the night wears on. What we post here is probably stale. What we post here may be an hour or more behind what the network "decision desks" are looking at and use to call the race.

Updates will follow in reverse chronological order, all times Eastern.

***

9:34 - If you're watching television, you know that the networks have just called Maryland for Obama and McCain. Here, via Mark Lindeman, are the underlying vote estimates used to weight the cross-tabs just posted online: Obama 62%, Clinton 35% -- McCain 55%, Huckabee 29%, Paul 8%, Romney 7%.

9:21 - Reader Daniel T asks:

I just took another look at the CNN exit poll and now all the numbers havechanged but the number of respondents did not. The exit poll now showsMcCain winning 50% of the male/female vote when it showed Huckabee winningthe female voted before.

Can you explain why/how this happened?

Yes [though admittedly, this process is confusing]. Here is how I explained the process last week:

So I've alluded to the fact that these estimates improve over the course of the evening. What does that mean? It means that as the polls close, the estimates are based on some combination of results from the exit poll interviews and (believe it or not) pre-election poll averages. Once the polls close, the interviewers attempt to obtain actual results for their sampled precinct (or another "reporter" attempts to get the results from the county or state registrar). The exit poll analysts use these numbers to do two things: First, they gradually replace the exit poll results in their estimate models with the actual count precinct-by-precinct. They also calculate the "within precinct error" statistic for each state (or regions with each state - not sure) that are used to adjust exit poll results from the other precincts where actual count is not yet available.

The exit pollsters also have "reporters" who gather hard vote counts from a much larger random sample of precincts. All of this data goes into the computer models and is used to create various estimates of the vote. The "decision desk" analysts look at all of those estimates in deciding whether to "call" a race.

A separate operation within exit-poll-central takes whatever estimate they deem most trustworthy and uses it to weight the subgroup tabulations that we can read online. And we take those tabulations as they appear online extrapolate the estimates above from those tabulations. They typically do one updates 30 to 60 minutes after the polls close and another two or three over the course of the evening. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that what you are seeing here is not as current as the information the network analysts are using to make their calls.

8:51 - Call it "McShift:" After the calls for McCain by NBC, CNN and (presumably) the other networks, an update to the online cross-tabulations shows McCain head by eight points (49% to 41%). Keep in mind, as noted above, that updates to these tabulations run well behind the updates to estimates used to call he race, and the estimates improve as the exit pollster are able to incorporate actual vote returns into their random samples of precincts.

8:30 - Reader Andrew Therriault emails to point out something something minor but nonetheless noteworthy that reminds us that exit polls -- like all other surveys -- are subject to "measurement" error. Roughly 3% of the respondents to the Virginia Democratic exit poll provided answers that are not exactly consistent: They either support Obama but say they would be "disappointed" of Obama is the nominee, or support Clinton and say they would be "disappointed" if Clinton is the nominee. So, presumably, a small number of respondents did not hear these questions are intended (unless you have a better explanation).

7:44 - The initial estimate for the Democratic race in Virginia had Obama leading Clinton, 62% to 38% (Mark corrects me...either 61%-38% or 62%-37%).

7:43 - The tabulations that appeared for Virginia just after the polls closed showed McCain ahead of Huckabee by four points (46% to 42%) and Obama leading Clinton. An update that we noticed at about 7:30 showed Huckabee with a numeric advantage (46% to 44%), though we should stress that these differences are almost certainly not large enough to be statistically significant.

 

Comments
Daniel T:

WOW. According to the CNN exit polls Huckabee is going to beat McCain by about three points.

If that happens, what are the Republicans going to do? Virgina is their heart.

I am waiting with baited breath.

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Mark Lindeman:

Daniel, bear in mind that in some cases McCain has outperformed the exit polls. I'm certainly intrigued, however!

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Daniel T:

Just to notes on the CNN exit poll for Virgina.

(1) Despite McCains reputation on military affairs, Huckabee actually out polled McCain among those who said this was the most important issue.

(2) Everyone harps on electibility. 73% of VA Republican voters said McCain was most likely to win in Novemeber. Yet, 33% of them voted for Huckabee. Compare that to the 2% of Huckabee's supporters that voted for McCain.

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perry:

Looks like it Mark. Like Washington State,polls showed McCain winning by 25 points. Whoever is doing those polls needs to find a new job. They certainly shouldn't expect anyone to pay 'em for that garbage.

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Mark Lindeman:

By the way, I've seen two different estimates for the Dems, and neither appeared to be quite 62/38. Roughly it went from 61.1/37.8 to 61.7/37.4 (those are cruder numbers than I usually have). I'm happier with the estimate on the R side, where the update put Huckabee +2.1 or so. Of course by now the networks have updated estimates and we don't -- it's just wacky exit poll fun.

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Krassen:

I don't mean disrespect, however, I only pay attention to the male/female breakdown, and it looks like McCain has a slight edge there.

The reason is I think it is natural for all respondents to tick the gender box, while all others (religion, abortion, income) are loaded to some degree, and there can be biases introduced, where a certain group (say high income or pro-abortion) may feel compelled not to tick, yet they have already voted for a candidate.

Cheers,

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Krassen:

I don't mean disrespect, however, I only pay attention to the male/female breakdown, and it looks like McCain has a slight edge there.

The reason is I think it is natural for all respondents to tick the gender box, while all others (religion, abortion, income) are loaded to some degree, and there can be biases introduced, where a certain group (say high income or pro-abortion) may feel compelled not to tick, yet they have already voted for a candidate.

Cheers,

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Mark Lindeman:

Krassen, not a matter of disrespect -- different places may have different numbers posted. And I agree some tables may be less reliable than others.

NBC just called VA for McCain. However, unless my browser updates have gone wacko, it still has McCain +3 among men and Huckabee +6 among women. Of course this is well within the margin of error.

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Daniel T:

Thanks Marc. NBC did just call for McCain even with 58% of the vote reporting. I'm assuming then that it is northern VA that has yet to report, since that is where McCain's strength is. Otherwise this is a bad call.

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Daniel T:

CNN just called VA for McCain too.

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Mark Lindeman:

Krassen, I just throw out any table where the row percentages don't total at least 99%. That knocks most of the opinion questions out of the analysis.

MSNBC has now posted another update that gives McCain slightly over an 8-point lead.

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Daniel T:

Marc. I don't see what is inconsistent about the result Andrew sent in. I would imagine that there is a small group of people that meets just that demographic: It's called voting while holding your nose.

So it is no shocker that there are some people voted for Obama even if they would have prefered he was not the nominee. I almost did that, then chose to vote for Edwards even though he dropped out. I would be shocked, however, if it was more than a few percentage points that behaved that way.

So the only real margin of error in an exit poll should come sampling error.

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Daniel T:

Oh, and I am sorry I keep calling you Marc instead of Mark. I have a good friend who spells his name that way and I am just used to spelling it like that.

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Daniel T:

Mark.

I just took another look at the CNN exit poll and now all the numbers have changed but the number of respondents did not. The exit poll now shows McCain winning 50% of the male/female vote when it showed Huckabee winning the female voted before.

Can you explain why/how this happened?

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calwatch:

MD: Obama 62, Clinton 35.3
Huckabee 29, McCain 54.5, Paul 8, Romney 7

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Andrew:

What a coincidence. In both parties, the media favorite won.

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Gary Kilbride:

Andrew, on the Democratic side I don't know if it's media favorite, as opposed to sheer ability. Once in a while none of the conventional criteria apply, when they are confronted by freakish talent. Reminds me of the '97 Masters when I bet against Tiger Woods.

Obama rose only slightly tonight on Intrade, up to roughly 73% theoretical change to win the nomination.

I really wanted it to be Hillary. My white male right wing friends in Las Vegas despise her. Imagine the devilish satisfaction of knowing the other side had a potential waking nightmare, cold sweat that would span decades, 3 or 4 losses to the same family, with no way to rationalize or dream away. In a likely Democratic year I'd my chances on Hillary winning a squeaker.

But long term no doubt it's preferable for Democrats if Obama is elected. One of the most interesting studies on Pollster.com was young voters remaining loyal throughout their lives to the party they originally aligned with. Well, Bush has repulsed 8 years of new voters toward Democrats. I seriously doubt a Hillary administration could have lassoed the next crop in similar percentage or zeal. But a successful Obama presidency absolutely has that potential. Just think how devastating that could be down the road, when those voters are in mid life and voting reliably, 16 solid years of a pro-Democratic voting block.

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C.S.Strowbridge:

"I really wanted it to be Hillary. My white male right wing friends in Las Vegas despise her. "

I want to see an Obama / Clinton ticket. The about of racist, sexist vitriol that would come out of the Republicans would be overwhelming.

I've said it before, and I will say it again, you would have a Macaca Moment every week; hell you could have one every day.

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Chris:

"So, presumably, a small number of respondents did not hear these questions are intended (unless you have a better explanation)."

3% of voters are idiots?

Though I think 3% may be a low end estimate on that.

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Rasmus:

Umm, another question.
CNN politics website
[url]edition.cnn.com/POLITICS[/url]

there is a countdown for the next primary elections for both parties.

Follow Upcoming Races
6
Days
until: WI | WA [democrats]
6
Days
until: WI | WA [republicans]

Well, I as a german thought that WA stands for Washington State, and I also thought that Obama won this primary some days ago...

Do they Have a hybrid primary or what?

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Mark Lindeman:

OK, I guess the question was this (from the NY questionnaire -- CBS apparently hasn't posted the VA one yet):

No matter how you voted today, would you be:
1: Satisfied only if Hillary Clinton is the nominee
2: Satisfied only if Barack Obama is the nominee
3: Satisfied if either one is the nominee
4: Dissatisfied if either one is the nominee

And about 3% of the people who gave answers 2 and 4 nonetheless said they had voted for Clinton. It appears that most of these people said they were dissatisfied with both. Of the 34% who said they would be satisfied only if Obama were the nominee, only about 1% said they voted for Clinton.

Voting for Clinton while being dissatisfied with both isn't at all contradictory. Saying that one voted for Clinton but would be satisfied only with Obama could well be checking the wrong boxes, but it could also be a manifestation of ambivalence.

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Rasmus:

And maybe the Edwards voters play a role there.
They are dissatisfied if Obama or Clinton gets the nomination, but they have to vote for one of them.

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Rasmus:

Mark,
Rasmussens daily presidential tracking poll
is out.

46% Obama, 41% Clinton

...Obama now leads Clinton 64% to 9% nationally among African-American voters while Clinton narrowly leads among white voters 47% to 43%. Clinton has a ten-point advantage among voters of other racial and ethnic groups (primarily Latinos).

Clinton still leads by four among women, including a twelve-point advantage among white women. However, Obama leads by eighteen-points among men, including a nine-point edge among white men.

Clinton holds a very narrow edge among Democrats, but Obama leads by thirty-five percentage points among unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a Democratic Primary.....

..In general election match-ups, Obama leads John McCain 46% to 40% while McCain leads Clinton 46% to 42%..

..

In the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination, John McCain currently earns 45% of the vote, Mike Huckabee attracts 33%, and Ron Paul is supported by 9%. McCain leads by double-digit margins among both Republicans and Independents likely to vote in a Republican Primary...

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