11/16/2004

Election 2004: Lingering Suspicions

Election 2004: Lingering Suspicions: "Election 2004: Lingering Suspicions
by Greg Guma


The Internet, that wonderful engine of democracy, is rife with messages purporting to demonstrate how the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated in ways benefiting the Republicans.

To start, voting analyses of selected Florida and Ohio precincts conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Steven Freeman and independent investigator Faun Otter have revealed surprisingly high percentages for Bush. Those skeptical about the results further suggest spoiled ballots and provisional votes, which may have a disproportionate impact on the results in the areas with high concentrations of minority voters, could have made the difference.

The earliest exit poll data released on Nov. 2 indicated Kerry -- who had run narrowly behind Bush but within the margin of error for most of the race -- was rolling to victory and carrying many of the battleground states, including Florida and Ohio, by higher than expected margins. These same polls also suggested the Republicans were ahead in most of the tight U.S. Senate races.

By the end of the night, however, the predictions in the presidential exit were wrong while the Senate projections were largely correct.

Exit polling by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, which created the National Election Poll for ABC, AP, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC, had shown Kerry leading by 3 percentage points in Florida and by 4 points in Ohio. Kerry lost Florida by 5.2 percent, with Bush running ahead of his 2000 performance in 58 of the state's 67 counties. In Ohio, the margin was 2.5 percent.

Florida's 8.2-percent spread -- between the early exits and the results -- is more than double the standard error rate. In Ohio, the spread is 6.5 percent."

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