Please Stop Looking at Exit Polls

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Our editor-in-chief has a gripe:


Seriously, people, just don’t do this. The polling this year was unreliable and there’s every reason to think the exit polls are unreliable too. But analysts are gonna analyze, so we get a lot of opening sentences like this:

Take all this with a grain of salt, but….

No. Just stop there. I know it’s frustrating for numbers-oriented folks to have no reliable numbers to analyze the election with, but right now we don’t. And this is doubly true if you’re comparing 2020 to 2016, which had some reliability issues of its own. Like it or not, this year’s exits just aren’t good enough except at the broadest possible level (for example, shifts of six or seven points or more, which will probably hold up even if the precise magnitude of the shift changes when we get better numbers).

I myself have taken an even more extreme tack: I haven’t even looked at the 2020 exit polls. Even if I swear to myself that I’m just curious and I won’t let them influence me, they will. I’d rather have no opinion than one based on bad data.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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