After a primary or an election, data is quickly available about how certain demographics voted. WFDD listener Susan DeVaney wants to know where this information comes from. WFDD finds out in this quick edition of Carolina Curious.
Voting data comes from two places: official election statistics from state government and more commonly, what are called exit polls.
“Typically exit polling is done when people are walking out of the voting area and someone asks them to answer a few questions about who they are and why they voted, how they voted,” says Elon University Poll Director Jason Husser.
Husser says these findings are supplemented with telephone surveys before the election to account for early voting.
Exit polls are helpful for media and analysts reporting on outcomes because the information is available quickly, but they're not perfect.
“They often are designed to represent bellwether precincts rather than necessarily a perfect sample or representation of all the subgroups throughout the state or the country.”
The main organization that does exit polling in the U.S. is Edison Media Research.