Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Grain Of Salt: Turnout Predictions Not Unlike Raw Exit Polls

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 8:39 AM by Maurice Berger

A note of caution: take any attempts to predict voter turnout at this point with a grain of salt. It is almost impossible to ascertain voter turnout relative to past elections early in the day.As Curtis Gans, director for the Committee For The Study Of The American Electorate at American University writes: "Because turnout can only accurately be ascertained by getting actual tabulated vote numbers and because to make any real sense of the numbers, one needs to wait until at least 90 percent of the vote has been cast in an individual state, any judgment on this year's turnout probably won't be available until late in the evening--probably around midnight before one can make an educated stab at how much turnout might have increased." And do NOT take personal observations about "long lines" and "frustrated poll workers" at your neighborhood precinct too seriously, either.What passes for heavy voting in your community or state may have little relevance to an urban or rural precinct a thousand miles away in another state. Similarly raw exit polling information--if it is leaked after this data is passed onto news organizations at 5:00 PM EST--should also be ignored. Without proper weighting and analysis these numbers are virtually meaningless.