10/29/2008 - In an exclusive interview with the Pew Research Center, Joe Lenski, co-founder and Executive Vice President of Edison Media Research discusses his organization's plans for conducting exit polls on November 4, given this year's special challenges including expected high voter turnout and unprecedented levels of pre-election day voting.
Lenski is an expert in the operation and organization of survey research and has been involved in every major exit poll conducted in the last decade for the television networks and the Associated Press. Under his supervision, in partnership with Mitofsky International, Edison Media Research currently conducts all exit polls and election projections for the six major news organizations -- ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press that participate in the National Election Pool (NEP).
Interviewer: Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center
How many states are you going to cover this year?
We're covering all of them. The news organizations historically cover every state in a presidential year. There will be a national survey, and there will be state surveys in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—with one asterisk on that. In three states, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, because of the sheer amount of early voting—and in Oregon and Washington's case no voting on Election Day—we're just doing a telephone poll. No actual exit polling in those three states.
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Overall, what is the biggest challenge that you face this year?
Early voting is a big challenge because it has increased so dramatically. The other challenge is being prepared for the unexpected. We know there is going to be an increase in turnout we just don't how much increase there is going to be. We know people who haven't voted before are going to be voting. We're more fortunate in that once we pick our polling places we just interview the people that show up there—we don't have to do any modeling to account for turnout because we only talk to the people that turn out. But we have to check to assure ourselves that the differences in turnout we measure are not just noise but true increases.
Read the complete Interview with Joe Lenski on the Pew Research Center Web site.