Georgetown students learn about importance of exit polls

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WASHINGTON, DC – Depending on which city, county, or state you live in races may be called immediately after polls close on Election Day.  While those projections are not official, in some cases they can accurately predict the outcome thanks in part to exit polling.

“We ask questions about how they feel about different policy issues, questions about how they usually vote, how they feel about the candidates so we can know more about them than just who they voted for,” Georgetown University Associate Professor Hans Noel said.

For a class project, Noel’s students are spending Election Day outside precincts surveying voters after they cast their ballots.

The students even got together to practice beforehand because they are asking voters more than just who they voted for.

“I can ask other questions about who voted for different groups, how they feel about certain issues, that sort of thing,” Noel added.  “So we can say so many people prefer Trump to Clinton in this community, why, and what kinds of issues and what matter to them.”

Like any survey, there is a margin of error in exit polls because of sampling. The students taking part in surveys said speaking to voters can help them better understand the electorate as a whole.

“It lets you see what people who you aren’t familiar with, talk to, or relate to,” Junior Ben Costanza said.  “That makes you more knowledgeable about things you don’t really know about to begin with.”

Back in 2003, the major news networks in the U.S. started getting their exit poll results from the same source, a group called Edison Research.

The group claims those news organizations using the its surveys have not made a single mistake in deciding a winner of any race.