NEP and Edison Research will expand in-person early voting interviews and implement Covid-19-related protocols to maintain health and safety.
With record numbers of Americans expected to vote before Election Day, the exit poll of record, conducted by Edison Research on behalf of ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News, will begin interviewing voters at early voting locations around the country on October 13.
“More Americans are expected to vote before Election Day this year than any other election in history, and the member networks of the National Election Pool (NEP) and Edison Research have developed innovative new techniques to account for that in our long-standing exit poll,” said Joe Lenski, co-founder and Executive Vice President of Edison Research.
The NEP’s exit poll is the only survey that will be released on election night that represents the views and opinions of actual voters interviewed as they cast their ballots all across the country.
As it has since 2004, the NEP exit poll will also include extensive telephone surveys of those planning to vote by mail to ensure that all voters are represented in Election Night coverage across the pool’s member networks and subscribers. This year, those polls will reach more than 25,000 voters casting ballots before Election Day.
For the first time in 2018, NEP’s exit poll included in-person interviews with those voting at early voting locations. The technique proved highly accurate in Nevada and Tennessee, the two states in which it was used that year, and was successfully expanded in this year’s presidential primaries in North Carolina and Texas. For the presidential election this fall, early voters will be interviewed in person in eight critical states.
“In 2018, Edison and the NEP pioneered the technique of conducting interviews at in-person early voting sites, and today, we’re using that valuable experience to expand those efforts for 2020,” said Lenski. “It’s simply a matter of taking our time-tested models and applying them to the ways people vote today.”
The 2018 exit poll also incorporated methodological improvements to better reflect the educational and age makeup of the electorate in the NEP’s results. Those improvements will be carried through to 2020. In order to make reliable, direct comparisons to the 2016 exit polls for the size of subgroups including age, education and income, the NEP members and subscribers will be using trend-adjusted results that apply the techniques added to our standard methodology in 2018 to the results from 2016.
In addition to adapting to the changing ways that voters cast their ballots, the NEP is taking precautions to ensure that voters participating in our in-person exit polls remain safe.
The NEP tasked Edison Research to conduct tests to determine best practices for safe and secure exit polls even in the midst of a major public health crisis. Exit polls will be conducted by interviewers wearing masks, who will remain six feet away from respondents and will have new, single-use pencils available for each voter filling out the exit poll questionnaire. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available for voters to use before and after completing their exit polls.
In addition to the exit poll, the NEP and Edison Research will be tabulating the vote from all counties in the U.S. for statewide and congressional races as it has done in previous elections.
In 2018 the National Election Pool (NEP) incorporated several changes to the exit poll questionnaire and the survey weighting to help improve the accuracy of the reported size of groups by age and education in the exit polls. The wording of the education question was changed and the education question was placed on the front side of all questionnaires. In addition, we applied an adjustment for non-response by education and by age using parameters developed by comparing past Census estimates of turnout among these groups and past Exit Poll estimates of turnout among these groups.
The application of these changes starting in 2018 means that direct comparison of the size of voting groups by age, education, and income in 2020 cannot be made with the published survey results for those groups from 2016. In order to allow comparisons of age, education, and income from the 2020 exit polls with those from 2016 we have applied the new age and education parameters retroactively to the 2016 surveys. These “trend adjusted” composition numbers for age, education, and income should be used for comparison with the national survey and the twenty two states where we will have conducted state exit polls in both 2016 and 2020.
We have produced the attached spreadsheet with the trend-adjusted compositions for these demographics for the 2016 national and state surveys to be used for comparison with the 2020 exit poll results for these demographics.
We strongly recommend when reporting on changes to the size of the electorate among age, education, income and related sub-groups in 2020 that all organizations use these trend adjusted compositions from 2016 for comparison.
For every other question we recommend that the published compositions from the 2016 exit polls should be used for comparison and trending with the 2020 exit poll results.
For the vote results among all questions including age, education, and income, the published 2016 exit poll results should still be used for comparison.