Bloggers Let Poll Cat Out of the Bag
Wednesday, November 3, 2004; 10:39 AM
But the article noted the importance of the blog race against the mainstream media outlets: "Many polling experts had warned that such shifts were almost inevitable since the bloggers were posting exit poll numbers hours before they could be considered reliable. ... The attention paid to blogs last night highlighted their increasing prominence in the worlds of politics and media."
The Wall Street Journal: Brash Blogs Grab the Lead Again With Early Reports on Exit Polls (Subscription required)
The Los Angeles Times gave the match point to blogs, but noted the accuracy of exit poll posts was often suspect: "Overflowing with early, and sometimes wildly misleading, exit poll numbers, Web logs became the Internet's own battleground state on Tuesday, as the bloggers fought even among themselves in reporting the kind of preliminary data television avoids before polls close. Some blogs were stuck between an ideological rock and a news-gathering hard place. Partisan blogs like the conservative National Review Online ... found themselves caught in a spirited debate about whether the early numbers they posted were hurting their preferred candidate, President Bush. The readers of liberal blogs such as Daily Kos ... staged an online pep rally celebrating early numbers showing Sen. John F. Kerry ahead in many swing states. As they have in the past, television networks and newspaper websites refrained from reporting early exit poll results, but the Internet adheres to little such restraint. Hours after the first polls opened on the East Coast, the Internet bustled with preliminary voter surveys, sparking an angry online debate among the wi-fi wonks over their posting and their significance. The attribution for (and authenticity of) these numbers was murky."
The Washington Post: TV News Plays It Safe, Up to a Point (Registration required)
The Los Angeles Times: Exit Polls Bog Down The Blogs (Registration required)
The Wall Street Journal Online weighed in with its own coverage of the exit poll scrapping in cyberspace, noting in a blog roundup: "Bloggers are crowing about yet another way the Internet is scooping TV, this time by the networks' own Web sites. There has apparently been a discrepancy between the caution typifying TV-news projections and the raw exit-poll data available on some of the networks' Web sites, as noted by the blogger NewDonkey.com and a reader on DailyKos.com. Just before the 10 p.m. poll closings, most of the TV networks were projecting a lead in the electoral vote for President Bush over Sen. John Kerry, but they weren't ready to call the crucial states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. They were only reporting figures based on precincts that had already turned in voting results. But surfers could find exit-poll data on CNN.com and MSNBC.com for each state where the polls had already closed. The tallies were separated by gender, but it wasn't tough for NewDonkey.com to calculate what the overall numbers showed, based on exit-poll numbers showing the breakdown of all voters by gender."
The Wall Street Journal Online: Reporters, Pundits File Real-Time Web Updates (Subscription required)
The Baltimore Sun cut to the chase on the potential impact of the bloggers on exit poll reporting. In a nutshell, caution was thrown out the window. "The mainstream electronic media, still bruised from making bad calls in the 2000 election, ceded the dirty work to the new kid yesterday, allowing Internet news sites and Web logs to rule political reporting for much of the day -- for better or worse," the Sun reported. "By early afternoon, online bloggers had started listing early, and sometimes questionable, exit poll information that showed Sen. John Kerry leading President Bush in the three key swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. By early evening, before most polls closed and the TV networks resumed reporting, a few blogs and news Web sites had called the race for Kerry. ... The bloggers were filling a void left by news outlets reluctant to speculate, though much of their information was based on rumors or postings of their peers, causing some others concern. They are 'putting up exit polls and things like that, and they're based on almost nothing,' said Ann Althouse, a blogger and law professor from Madison, Wis. 'They seem to want to affect things in bizarre ways. What the good bloggers, the reasonable bloggers, are trying to do is keep mainstream media honest.'"
The Baltimore Sun: Bloggers Rule the Day in Earlier Reporting