According to the McCain Campaign Memo (Full memo Here)
McCAIN CAMPAIGN MEMO: READING THE EXIT POLLS
BILL McINTURFF, INTERNAL POLLSTER
Mon Nov 03 2008 16:53:14 ET
As we have seen in previous election cycles, the exit poll results do leak early and that ends up influencing the coverage of the race before even the first state polls close at 6:00 PM Eastern.
However, we want to remind the campaign that the media’s own post-election study of the exit polls in 2004 showed that the exit polls overstate the Democratic candidate’s support. Therefore, we would discourage a rush to judgment based on the exit polls and wait until there has been a representative sampling of actual tabulated results from a variety of counties and precincts in a state.
Here are the key points to keep in mind when the exit poll data starts being leaked:
1. Historically, exit polls have tended to overstate the Democratic vote.
2. The exit polls are likely to overstate the Obama vote because Obama voters are more likely to participate in the exit poll.
3. The exit polls have tended to skew most Democratic in years where there is high turnout and high vote interest like in 1992 and 2004.
4. It is not just the national exit poll that skews Democratic, but each of the state exit polls also suffers from the same Democratic leanings.
5. The results of the exit polls are also influenced by the demographics of the voters who conduct the exit polls.
After the 2004 election, the National Election Pool completed a study investigating why the exit polls that year showed John Kerry over performing 5.5 net points better than the actual results showed him to have done. Their conclusion was that the primary reason the exit polls was that Kerry voters and Democrats were more likely to participate in the exit polls.
“Our investigation of the differences between the exit poll estimates and the actual vote count point to one primary reason: in a number of precincts a higher than average Within Precinct Error most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters. There has been partisan overstatements in previous elections, more often overstating the Democrat, but occasionally overstating the Republican.
We believe that this will hold true this year. The recent Fox News survey showed that 46% of Obama voters said they were very likely to participate in the exit polls, while just 35% of McCain supporters are.
(h/t Chicagoans Against Obama)