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  Did Bush Lose the Election?

COMMENTARY:

Did Bush Lose the Election?

by Margie Burns

As things stand right now, it seems unlikely that Mr. Bush won the 2004 presidential election.
As things stand right now, it seems unlikely that Mr. Bush won the election.

There are two major categories of problems. One affects the electoral vote. Release of the final exit polls conducted in all states shows a pattern that cannot be explained away. The exit polls were released (not to the general public) at 4:00 p.m. on Election Day by polling consultants Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

These are the genuine exit polls for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, taken before the outcome was known in any particular state. These are not the “exit polls” that organizations including CNN went back and retroactively changed after the election, making them conform more to vote tallies.

The exit poll results are laid out straightforwardly in a very clear list (tabulation). Compared to the vote tallies given the public, they seem amazing. Contrary to results in every election for the past twenty years, the variance between exit polls the published vote tally was more than two points--in other words a swing of 4% or 5% or more to Bush, in 33 of 51 jurisdictions. Regardless of which candidate won in those states, a big variance, always in the same direction, allegedly occurred in every single exit poll in all of them.

Exit polls from the next nine states down the list were also reversed by a smaller swing toward Bush in the published vote tally, including in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Thus, to sum up, a four-out-five-state swing to Bush is alleged in an election where every indication showed new voters, independent voters, and younger voters trending toward Kerry and/or away from Bush, and in an election where turnout increased, even though increased voter turnout generally favors the challenger against the incumbent.

Exit polls are not just polls. They are polls of people who actually showed up to vote, taken just after the voting, and weighted to take into account any preponderance of one group. Exit polls are used to check and verify the validity of elections in countries including Germany and Mexico.

Furthermore, this crucial swing occurred in all the close states: Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa all allegedly had the same “red shift.” Most seemingly shifted more than two points, in other words a swing of 4% or 5%, regardless of the size or region of the state, or whether it went for Bush or Kerry.

A paper titled “The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy” has been published by Dr. Steven F. Freeman, whose Ph.D. in organizational studies came from MIT and who holds professorships at the University of Pennsylvania and at an international MBA program founded by Harvard. According to Professor Freeman, the swing between exit poll and vote tally is an anomaly even if you take just the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. “The likelihood of any two of these statistical anomalies occurring together is on the order of one-in-a-million," he says. "The odds against all three occurring together are 250 million to one.”

Disclaimer: I distrust opinion polls and much other polling. I have long worried that incessant polling can weaken the individual’s reliance on his/her own judgment, can plant suggestions, can intimidate reporters, and can manipulate public acceptance of the unacceptable. Following this election, an opinion poll has already been published suggesting that most people are relieved that the outcome was clear.

All well and good, if it was clear. But the integrity of counting votes is essential to our nation’s survival as a democracy. Obsession about who is ahead before the election, the “horse race” question, is often silly. But after the election, the question of who won is fundamental. No other question is nearly as important.

Exit polls are not just polls. They are polls of people who actually showed up to vote, taken just after the voting, and weighted to take into account any preponderance of one group. Professor Freeman’s paper points out that exit polls are used to check and verify the validity of elections in countries including Germany and Mexico; when exit polls contradicted the claim that Eduard Shevardnadze had won election in the former Soviet country of Georgia, he was forced to resign under pressure from the US among others.

Immediate investigation is most urgent in four states that the swing from exit poll to published vote tally also swung from Kerry to Bush: Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Iowa. The many problems already reported from counties and precincts in all four states more than corroborate the suggestion raised by the exit poll tabulation. These four states also add up to 59 electoral votes, more than enough to have tilted the election outcome.

The Electoral College is not the whole story. Questions have arisen that affect the popular vote count even in “safe” states. Stay tuned.


Margie Burns writes freelance in Maryland. She can be reached at margie.burns@verizon.net.



Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 22, 2004.

 

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