Friday exit poll highlights: Cellphones and more

November 9, 2012

Four exit poll tidbits to end the week, and one reminder ...

1 -- Fully one-in-three Election Day voters nationally said they do not have land-line telephones, up from 20 percent four years ago and 7 percent eight years ago. Preelection polls that exclude these voters may have yield "good" final estimates, but they are missing more and more of the electorate on other all matters, not just presidential votes.

2 -- Obama’s biggest percentage point drop-off among white voters was among those ages 18-29.

3 -- African American support for Obama was again overwhelming, but a down-tick from 95 to 93 percent stemmed entirely from a decline among black men. In 2012, black male voters backed Obama at a similar level to John Kerry in 2004, according to the exit poll.

4 -- Obama did poorly among Mormon voters, getting just 21 percent in 2012. But that was basically on par with his take in 2008 against a non-Mormon candidate (24 percent) and Kerry's from 2004.

5 -- Exit polls have margins of sampling error, just like any survey. One should remember that when making big story lines out of small differences. The national exit poll interviewed a lot of people -- 22,157 on Election Day and an additional  4,408 with early voters via telephone -- but the margin of sampling error for a typical characteristic (e.g. young voters) has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. (All of the differences described above pass a basic test of statistical significance.)

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