Mystery Pollster’s analysis of the offical Mitofsky exit poll screw-up report confirms that, as suspected, the problem was not bloggers, and not some esoteric technical bias it takes an advanced degree to figure out. The problem is that Mitofsky [the exit polling organization] had built a cheesy, dime-store organization that relied crucially on poorly-trained young people at the bottom. … [T]here was a lot less going on behind the curtain than Mitofsky’s arrogant professionalism would lead you to expect.
And yes, I’m quoting a summary of the analysis of the report because I’m far too lazy to read the primary or even the secondary source material. :)
UPDATE: Okay, okay, I’m reading Mystery Pollster’s actual post now. This is particularly interesting:
The problem was not in the selection of the sample precincts — it was that the data in the chosen precincts was not representative of the actual voting at those precincts. … The authors…found higher rates of “within precinct error” favoring Kerry in precincts with the following characteristics:
* An interviewer age 35 or lower
* An interviewer with a graduate degree
* A larger number of voters, where a smaller proportion were selected
* An interviewer with less experience
* An interviewer who had been hired a week or less prior to the election
* An interviewer who said they had been trained “somewhat or not very well.”
* In cities and suburbs
* In swing states
* Where Bush ran stronger
* Interviewers had to stand far from the exits
* Interviewers could not approach every voter
* Polling place officials were not cooperative
* Voters were not cooperative
* Poll-watchers or lawyers interfered with interviewing
* Weather affected interviewing
…Unfortunately, none of the characteristics above, by itself, “proves” the Kerry supporters were more likely than Bush supporters to participate in the poll. However, it is not hard to see the underlying attitudes and behaviors at work might create and exacerbate the within-precinct bias.
Consider age, for example. What assumptions might a voter make about a college student approaching with a clipboard? Would it be crazy to assume that student was a Kerry supporter? If you were a Bush voter already suspicious of the media, might the appearance of such an interviewer make you just a bit more likely to say no, or to walk briskly in the other direction? Would it be easier to avoid that interviewer if they were standing farther away? What if the interviewer were forced to stand 100 feet away, among a group of electioneering Democrats - would the Bush voter be more likely to avoid the whole group?
Sounds pretty damn plausible to me.
P.S. More here, including a mention of similar problems in past elections, and a quote that could be applied to many, many things in life:
So many who are considering the exit poll problem yearn for simple, tidy answers that can be easily proved or dismissed: It was fraud! It was incompetence! Someone is lying! Unfortunately, this is one of those problems for which simple answers are elusive.