We all remember how far off the exit polls were in 2004.
But we don’t recall how far off some of the leaked exit poll results were in 2006. In the races were expected blowouts — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island — the exit polls were pretty accurate. But on some of the close ones — the ones where race-watchers want reliable data the most — they managed to botch it pretty badly.
Virginia Exit Poll Result: D: 52 R: 47.
Actual result: Webb 49.59 percent, Allen 49.2 percent.
The exit poll margin was 5 percent; the actual margin was less than one percent.
Montana Exit Poll Result: D: 53 R: 46.
Actual result: Tester 49.16, Burns 48.29.
The exit poll margin was 7 percent; the actual margin was less than one percent.
Arizona Exit Poll Result: R: 50 D: 46
Actual result: Kyl 53, Pederson 44.
The exit poll margin was 2 percent, the actual margin was 9 percent.
Because they correctly predicted the ultimate winner, no one remembers these poll results as being egregiously off-base. But a few thousand votes here and there, and they would have had the wrong winner in Virginia and Montana.
And you notice which direction these results skew.