Monday, November 08, 2004

Something Doesn't Add Up

A statistical analysis of exit polling conducted for RAW STORY by a former MIT mathematics professor has found the odds of Bush making an average gain of 4.15 percent among all 16 states included in the media’s 4 p.m. exit polling is 1 in 50,000, or .002 percent.

The analysis, conducted by former Associate Professor of Mathematics David Anick, also ruled out any significance of a variance between electronic voting and paper ballot states, which RAW STORY reported last week.

In fact, the non-electronic voting states of New York and New Hampshire had higher gains for President Bush than states in the exit polls using some electronic voting: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada and West Virginia.

In part, the discrepancy in the site’s earlier reporting came from the fact that New Hampshire and New York were not included in the reported 6 p.m. polling. Both states had the greatest “Bush gains,” by 8.7 and 8.6 percent respectively, and both use non-electronic balloting. The full breakdown of states by electronic and paper balloting can be found here.

Many of the states, however, including crucial swing states like Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire use optical scan technology which “counts” the paper ballots. Since these systems use Windows machines and a simple database (many of which are connected by modems to a central tabulator), these states are subject to hacking as well.

The site chose to use the 4 p.m. exit polling because it polled the largest number of states, which would provide a larger sample. The National Election Pool refuses to release any of their exit polling on any other states, or to break it down by county, without being paid.

On average, Bush made a gain of 4.15 percent when the reported vote was tallied in all sixteen states included in the reported 4 p.m. exit polling conducted by the National Election Pool.

The gain was calculated by taking the difference between Kerry and Bush in the exit poll and comparing it with the difference between Kerry and Bush in the reported vote.

Anick reasons that there are four possible causes of the “Bush gains.” (1) Significantly greater lying or refusal to speak to pollsters in Bush voters versus Kerry voters; (2) Consistent/systematic errors in weighting demographic groups; (3) A surge of Bush voters after 4 p.m., in all states; (4) Systematic tampering/hacking of reported vote totals, in Bush’s favor.

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