Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 4:36am
AFTER PREVIOUS GAFFES, NETWORKS MOSTLY TAKE THEIR TIME
[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Bill Carter]
The television networks reporting on the results of the midterm elections last night exercised an unusual degree of caution in declaring any shift of power in Congress, apparently chastened by previous miscalculations based on exit poll information. While some contested races, like the Maryland and New Jersey contests for the Senate, were called fairly quickly by all of them, they held back on the nightâ€™s marquee story: whether Democrats would take control of either house. It was just after 5 p.m. that exit poll data, closely held under a â€œquarantine,â€ were released by the National Election Pool, the network-created organization that provides tabulated vote counts and the results of exit surveys. Several network executives said later that those early numbers had indicated a sweeping victory for Democratic candidates, but for the most part that was not mentioned on the air. The reason was the experience of two years ago, when the exit polls seemed to point to a victory by Senator John Kerry in the presidential race. That night the networks hinted broadly at such an outcome, only to be repudiated by the real numbers. Last night, network executives said, the numbers seemed so skewed toward the Democrats again that they simply did not trust them.
* Fox News calls exit polls unreliable
In the middle of its election coverage, Fox News -- one of the members of the consortium -- announced that it was going to stop relying on the exit-poll data because its decision-desk analysts had discovered a Democratic bias of six to eight percentage points in many areas after comparing the survey results with the actual vote.
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