Exit poll and vote count: Providing the data that explains how America votes

The polls closed less than 24 hours ago and much of the time in the coming days will be spent analyzing how Americans voted in the 2018 midterm elections.  At Edison Research we are proud that the exit polls we provided to the members of the National Election Pool (ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC) will be the principal information guiding these discussions.

Election day was the culmination of years of planning at Edison as we assembled and organized over 6,000 workers including exit poll interviewers, field supervisors, county vote reporters, data entry operators, and data analysts to collect crucial data in the 2018 midterms. Our thanks to thousands of staffers who stood in rain and wind to conduct exit polls, who stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to report vote counts, and who dedicated their election day to this massive undertaking that provides essential data in the election process.

Starting before the polls opened morning through the polls closing, thousands from Edison’s survey team were stationed at local voting precincts in every state to collect exit poll data from over 100,000 voters. The national exit poll is the only nationwide voter information on voting trends, differences in vote patterns by gender, age, region, and other demographic and geographic groups that is based on verified voters. Exit poll data is important because it is gathered after votes are cast, so the respondents are people who have actually voted.

Exit poll data is incredibly valuable, not only to predict the winners of political races, although that makes for compelling viewing on election night, but also to provide analysis about the issues that drive American voters to make their choices. Edison’s national exit poll data continues to be the only one conducted in the United States. Along with the national exit poll, Edison’s state surveys are providing more in-depth analysis of all the key U.S. Senate and Governor’s races.

After the polls closed yesterday and Edison’s exit polling had been concluded, our vote collectors then went to work, covering over 4,000 voting locations across all 50 states to provide data for the tabulation of the national vote count. These vote collectors worked into the early morning hours today, gathering data from every precinct reporting in America, helping Edison provide accurate and timely vote returns to viewers across the country.

“We are proud of how our polling and data collection guided our clients’ coverage of election night and how it continues to lead the analysis and conversation on how America votes,” said Joe Lenski, Edison Executive Vice President and leader of Edison’s election efforts.

National Election Pool And Edison Research To Once Again Conduct Exit Poll of Record for 2018 Midterm Election

The National Election Pool (ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC) and Edison Research will once again conduct the Exit Poll of record in the United States. Using methodology that has provided reliable estimates and served journalists and scholars for more than a generation, we will interview voters across the country after they cast their ballots in this year’s critical midterm elections in the largest single-day data collection effort in the U.S. after the Census.

Our Exit Poll team will interview voters at hundreds of polling locations in all 50 states. The in-person interviews that form the core of our data guarantee that our polls and our projections reflect the views of actual voters nationwide. No poll conducted solely by telephone or online can ever promise that level of accuracy. Americans who tune in to our broadcasts or look at the poll results on our websites can be sure that they are seeing an accurate result that includes the opinions of people just like them.

The Exit Poll’s methodology and question wording is always being refined and edited to maintain the highest methodological standards and ensure that our practices are in keeping with the best practices of the survey research industry. Here are some of the new methodological efforts we will be implementing for this year’s Exit Poll.

Americans are increasingly voting early and dropping off absentee ballots in advance of Election Day. The Exit Poll incorporates these voters in two ways: by interviewing early and absentee voters by telephone in the final days of the campaign as the NEP has done since 2004, and in a new way this year, by deploying in-person interviewers to early polling locations in the days before the election in key states.

The results of the Exit Poll in 2016 demonstrated that knowing a voter’s educational background is critical to understanding American politics today. To ensure that the Exit Poll continues to accurately reflect the views of voters by their educational background, we have modified the question wording to more closely mirror the wording used by the Census Bureau and make it easier for voters taking the polls to accurately categorize their educational background and to better facilitate comparisons to Census data for later scholarship.

Changes to question wording on the Exit Poll are common. In the entire history of modern exit polling conducted by members of the National Election Pool dating back to 1972, just one question has been asked with the same question wording over that entire time.

The NEP has also added the ability to apply weights to Election Day interviews for voter characteristics that are not easily observable by the interviewers conducting the polls. In the past, exit polls were weighted only for such characteristics, including gender, age and race. Now, the Exit Poll will be adjusted for non-response by education and by age using a parameter developed by comparing past Census estimates of turnout among these groups and past Exit Poll estimates of turnout among these groups. While this adjustment does not meaningfully change the results of the Exit Poll in terms of the voting behavior of various subgroups, it does serve to adjust the poll’s estimates of the age and education makeup of the day’s voters in a way that is a best practice for polling in today’s environment.

Election Day

Edison Research Provides National Exit Poll Data and Vote Count

With only one month to go until Election Day, Edison Research prepares a staff of 6,000 to tell the world who won, and why.

For the upcoming 2018 General Election, Edison Research will provide exit polls and will tabulate the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.  In all, Edison will mobilize a trained staff of over 6,000, including exit poll interviewers, field supervisors, county vote reporters, data entry operators, and data analysts.  Edison’s survey team will interview over 100,000 voters as they leave polling places across the country.

As has been the case since 2004, Edison’s national exit poll will be the only one conducted in the United States.

This survey will provide vital information on voting trends, differences in vote patterns by gender, age, region, and other demographic and geographic groups.  These surveys will also provide analysis about the issues that drive American voters to make their choices.   Edison’s national exit poll will include voters from every state, while Edison’s state surveys will provide even more in-depth analysis of all the key U.S. Senate and Governors’ races.  In addition to its polling, Edison’s vote collectors will fan out across over 4,000 localities across all 50 states on Election Night, helping Edison provide accurate and timely vote returns to viewers across the country.


About Edison Research:
Edison Research (http://www.edisonresearch.com) conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of commercial clients, governments and NGOs, including AMC Theatres, The Brookings Institute, Disney, The Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Samsung, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, and Univision Communications. Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, and Radio One. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.  Edison conducts more than 100,000 interviews in a single day for this project. For the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections, Edison will provide exit polls and will tabulate the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.

Rustavi 2 pic Republic of Georgia

Pre-Election Polling in the Republic of Georgia

By Nino Japaridze

In three weeks, voters will have an opportunity to elect the Republic of Georgia’s next President. Edison Research took a detailed look at the voter’s pre-election sentiment by surveying 3,000 eligible voters nationwide in September 2018. The survey was commissioned by Georgia’s leading independent national broadcaster, Rustavi 2.

There is no shortage of Presidential candidates to choose from: The names of twenty five registered candidates will appear on the ballot on October 28th.  There were twenty-one additional presidential hopefuls whose registration was denied by Georgia’s Central Electoral Commission.

Several clear themes emerged:

The vast majority of interviewed voters tell us they plan to perform their civic duty and turn out to vote: We discovered 64 percent of eligible voters “definitely” plan to vote during the upcoming Presidential election, with 23 percent who think they will “probably vote,” 9 percent report being less likely to vote, and 4 percent did not answer the question. Should this be surprising? If we look at the long-term trends, voter turnout during Georgia’s Presidential elections has significantly declined over time, with only 46.6 percent of registered voters voting during Georgia’s 2013 Presidential election. Some analysts predict this trend will continue and expect a low turn-out this fall, in part because the weakened institution of the Presidency — a result of Constitutional amendments passed by the Parliament of Georgia on September 26, 2017. Edison’s poll, however, reveals 41 percent of eligible voters are unaware these amendments also annul Georgian voters’ ability to directly elect their president. When we asked them about this, we discovered 40 percent of eligible voters “completely disapprove” and 31 percent “somewhat disapprove” of this change, which will take effect in six years.

Only three Presidential hopefuls lead: When asked “if the election was held tomorrow, which candidate would you vote for,” 22 percent of eligible voters expressed support for Grigol Vashadze (a candidate from the Power is in Unity alliance of opposition parties), 18 percent for David Bakradze (a candidate from the European Georgia Party, which broke away from the United National Movement), and 15 percent for Salome Zurabishvili (an independent candidate backed by Georgia’s ruling party– Georgia Dream). Nearly seven out of ten supporters of these top-ranking candidates told us they were certain of their choice.

Shalva Natelashvili (a candidate from the Labor Party) and David Usupashvili (a candidate from the Independent Democrats Party) garnered 8 and 3 percent support, respectively. Other candidates had less than 2 percentage points of support. A quarter of the interviewed eligible voters told us they are undecided or they refused to answer this question.

Salome Zurabishvili has a strong negative image among eligible voters. When asked which Presidential candidate they would never consider voting for, 41 percent named Salome Zurabishvili, 29 percent named Zurab Japaridze and 16 percent named Shalva Natelashvili, while 13 percent of the surveyed respondents would never vote for Grigol Vashadze and 11 percent said they would never vote for David Bakradze and David Usupashvili, respectively.

A run-off election is likely. A run-off election between the top two candidates will occur if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote. With three candidates garnering significant support in our survey, and several others bringing in smaller numbers, a run-off election seems likely to occur. And voters in our poll agree, with 44 percent of surveyed voters expecting a run-off election, while 22 percent don’t expect this outcome and 32 percent “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” the question.

If all remains equal, the government party endorsed candidate Zurabishvili will likely be defeated by an opposition candidate during a run-off. Edison’s pre-election survey shows that if during a run-off election Grigol Vashadze and Salome Zurabishvili are on the ballot, 50 percent would vote for Vashadze, while 24 percent would vote for Zurabishvili, with 26 percent undecided or refusing to answer this question. Similarly, Zurabishvili appears to trail David Bakradze during a run-off election scenario: 53 percent would vote for Bakradze and 23 percent would vote for Zurabishvili during the run-off election, with 24 percent being undecided or refusing to answer the question.

Georgian voters are deeply dissatisfied with Georgia’s developments, creating an environment favorable for an opposition candidate to take the helm of Georgia’s Presidency this fall. 79 percent of the surveyed respondents feel the Republic of Georgia is going in the wrong direction. Six out of 10 respondents told us they “strongly disagree” with the legislative initiative led by Georgia Dream to legalize production of marijuana for export, while 26 percent “somewhat disagreed.” Immediately after the Edison poll was released, Salome Zurabishvili stated that, if elected President, the dialogue with Georgia’s population on this issue will continue. She also invited two leading opposition candidates to participate in pre-election debates. Georgian voters are known to radically shift their political preferences in a short time-span. With 24 days left before Georgia’s Presidential election, presidential candidates still have some time to earn the voters’ trust.

Click here to view Rustavi 2’s coverage of Edison’s findings

Exit polls hold valuable insights into primary voters

While there is ample research on general elections (but always room for more), it is the outcome of primaries that is having an increasing impact on today’s politics.

This article from the Brookings Institution highlights data from exit polls performed by Edison Research.

We at Edison are proud to be associated with The Primaries Project that Brookings is undertaking. Look for more updates from The Primaries Project and Edison’s exit polls throughout 2018.