Exit Poll Versus Reported Vote Count
By Theodore de Macedo Soares
The 2020 Texas Democratic Party presidential primary was held on March 3, 2020. Election results from the computerized vote counts differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. According to the exit poll Sanders was tied with Biden but lost in the unobservable computer counts by 4.5%.
In this election candidate Sanders saw the largest discrepancy between the exit poll and computer vote counts. His projected vote proportion fell 4% in the vote counts—an 12% reduction of his exit poll share. The combined discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for candidates Sanders and Biden at 4.4% significantly exceeded the 2.9% margin of error for the exit poll difference between the two. The discrepancies between Sanders and Bloomberg at 4.9% was double their respective margin of error. See table below.
There is good reason to believe that the exit poll just prior to publishing showed a Sanders win in Texas.
As explained by Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research in a 2016 interview with The Washington Post, as soon as polls close in a state Edison Research alters the exit poll in accordance with incoming vote counts. They are hired by the networks to predict the winners and losers in an election as soon as possible and to provide the proportion and voting patterns of various demographics and their views on topics of interest. The incoming vote counts are useful to them to better predict the results of the unobservable computer counts. They were not hired to ascertain their accuracy.
Texas as in a few other states such as New Hampshire and Florida have the great majority of the state’s polls closing an hour earlier than the remainder. This is great for Edison Research because they can use that hour’s access to the tabulating votes from much of the state to adjust their exit poll prior to first publishing after all polls close in those states. In Texas, as the final vote count shows, candidate Sanders was losing the state and they likely used these results to downgrade a Sanders win to a tie with Biden in their first published exit poll. Edison Research and or the major networks with access to this unpublished poll would be able to confirm if it indeed showed a Sander’s win and by how much.
The United States remains one of the
few major democracies in the world that continue to allow computerized vote
counting—not observable by the public—to determine the results of its
Countries such as Germany,[ii]
Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and many other countries
protect the integrity and trust of their elections with publicly observable
hand-counting of paper ballots.[v]
 Exit poll (EP) downloaded from CNN’s website by TDMS on election night, March 3, 2020 at 9:03 PM ET. Candidates’ exit poll percentage/proportion derived from the gender category. Number of EP respondents: 3,130. As this first published exit poll was subsequently adjusted towards conformity with the final computerized vote count, the currently published exit poll differs from the exit poll used here and available through the link below.
 Candidates’ percentage/proportion of the total computer-generated vote counts derived from reported counts (94% reporting) updated on March 6, 2020 and published by The New York Times. Total number of voters: 3,290,429
 The difference between the exit poll proportion and reported vote proportion for each candidate (subtracting values in column two from the values in column three). A positive value indicates the candidate did better and received a greater share of the total reported count than projected by the exit poll. For example, as candidate Sanders, reported percentage/proportion of the total vote decreased by 4% compared to his exit poll share this value is negative.
 This column shows the percentage increase or decrease from the candidate’s exit poll projection (difference in column four divided by exit poll proportion in column two). Shown, to simplify the table, only for candidates with greater than 4% share in the exit poll.
 This column presents a distinct Margin of Error (95% CI) for the exit poll (EP) differences between candidate Biden and Bloomberg versus each of the other candidate’s EP results. This margin of error (MOE), for example, between Biden and Sanders is 2.9% and the MOE between Bloomberg and Sanders is 2.3%. For simplicity MOE only shown for candidates with greater than 4% share in the EP. As this election involves multiple candidates the common method of ascertaining an MOE of the poll and then doubling it to see if the difference between two candidates is significant is replaced by a more appropriate method that directly calculates a distinct MOE for the difference between any two paired candidates. MOE (95% CI) calculated according to multinomial formula in: Franklin, C. The ‘Margin of Error’ for Differences in Polls. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. October 2002, revised February 2007. Available at: https://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/MOEFranklin.pdf
 The discrepancies between the exit poll and the reported computer-generated vote counts comparing candidates Biden and Bloomberg with each of the other candidates (subtracting each candidate’s difference between exit poll and computer count from Biden’s difference of 0.3% and in a separate column from Bloomberg’s difference of 1.0%. If the MOE is greater than the discrepancy it the discrepancy is not significant as it can be explained by the MOE. Conversely if the MOE is smaller then it cannot explain the discrepancy and another explanation is required. As shown in the table the combined discrepancies between Warren and Biden and separately between Warren and Blomberg are smaller than their respective MOEs and thus not significant. The combined discrepancies between Sanders and Biden and separately between Sanders and Blomberg are significant and cannot be explained by their respective MOEs.
[i] Fittingly, according to a recent Gallup World Poll, only 40% of Americans say they are confident in the honesty of U.S. elections. Finland and Norway with 89% of their citizens expressing confidence in the honesty of their elections along with the citizens of 25 other countries have greater confidence in their elections than do Americans.
[ii] In 2009 the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that every important aspect of an election must be observable by the public and thus “meet the constitutional requirements of the principle of the public nature of elections.” The Court explicitly ruled that no amount of voting machine testing, security requirements, and licensing procedures can compensate for this constitutional requirement. With this ruling, Germany abandoned inherently unobservable computerized vote counting and reverted to the hand-counting of every ballot in the precincts in which they were cast and in the plain view of the public.
The court also noted that while vote fraud with hand-counted ballots would be easy to detect, “programming errors in the software or deliberate electoral fraud committed by manipulating the software of electronic voting machines can be recognized only with difficulty.”
[iii] During the 2007 presidential election, eighty-three municipalities (France has 36,569 municipalities) were allowed to use voting machines. Due to security concerns and the inability of voters to determine if their votes are counted correctly a moratorium, that remains today, prevents additional municipalities from introducing voting machines. In the 2012 elections only 64 municipalities continued their use. The French government desires a total ban on their use.
[iv] In Canada, the results of federal elections are determined exclusively by hand-counted paper ballots. Some provinces have adopted voting machines for local elections. See here, here and here.
[v] The United States’ long ballots–containing federal, state, and local races–are commonly cited as being unwieldy for hand-counting. The use of Sweden’s method of providing different colored paper ballots for federal, state, and local races that are then sorted prior to hand-counting addresses this objection and allows for at least the hand-counting of federal elections with only three races per ballot.
Edited March 31, 2020. Thanks to Chris Weng for spotting error on table for Bloomberg/Biden MOE.
Texas 2020 Democratic Party Primary Exit Poll. Published by CNN at poll’s closing on election night.
Comments made on this or related pages that may be helpful to the reader (comments made on another page will open a new tab):
Why the exit polls accessible today differ from the exit poll used here.
Explanation of the method used to calculate the margin of error appropriate for an election with multiple candidates.
On errors in the conduct of an exit poll as the source of the disparities between the exit polls and the unobservable computer counts
Thank you again Ted! Does the gain/loss column take into account all the shifts seen for all candidates combined? For example, in the gain/loss column, it says Bernie Sanders lost 11.8%…. why do the Warren, Bloomberg, and Biden gains in the same column add up to more than 11.8%?
Hi Cindy, Thanks for the question. If you have this question others will also.
This Gain/Loss column shows the percentage increase or decrease from the candidate’s exit poll projection resulting from the reported vote count. For candidate Sanders, for example, he received 4% less in the vote count than projected by the exit poll. This -4% is then divided by his projected exit poll share of 34% that calculates to -11.8%. This is saying that his exit poll total was reduced by 11.8% in the vote total.
Okay, thanks I get that now.. but I still don’t get why if you add up the amount the three candidates gained it doesn’t equal the amount Bernie lost… I know I’m missing something, just wanting to understand what.
That’s because when you do percentages of difference from an original, it will never add up the same way. Example: I predict i get 50% of the vote, and then I get 25%. I lost 50% of the vote. Someone had 1% and gained 25% to get 26%, he gets 2600%. Those numbers don’t add up.
Does anyone have exit polls from CA? I bet they rigged it too……….just couldn’t rig it enough (although that sure as hell didn’t stop Clinton)
I know that Ted is planning to post a report on CA when all (or most?) of the vote is reported.
Thanks – I couldn’t even find the exit polls available anywhere.
So, I did some math on the Gender part of the poll from CNN. Taken into account the percentages available. I have Joe Biden at 1113 votes, and Bernie at 1015. Some of the numbers didn’t come out even so it might be off by a few votes, but Biden is 1% up in the exit poll and 4% up in the actual vote count? I’m not great with numbers but is that right?
And then you factor in the other candidates as well?
Thank you for the great analysis. Do you mind sharing the confidence intervals and p-values?
Also, do the exit polls have an analysis of the non-responders? and if not, could we use times where there were very little non-responders to estimate the error for them?
Maybe it is worth graphing the distributions to get your point across more easily to the general public.
Thanks for your question. The table and note 5 have been updated to show the 95% confidence interval applied. The discrepancies are significant even at 99% CI (not shown)! Confidence intervals are generally preferred over p-values.
Edison Research’s exit polls are weighed for non-responders. Their exit poll workers takes note of basic demographic characteristics (such as gender, race, age group) of those who refused to fill out the exit poll questionnaire and weighs the exit poll accordingly. The exit poll proportions for each candidate were derived from the gender category–the most certain non-responder adjustment.
Graphing the distributions is a good suggestion. Will do it when presenting a summary of all the states voting to date for which exit polls exist.
I have to ask this question. Is the DNC using technology to manipulate the primaries again and defraud the people of the United States from free and fair elections. I might add if they are that is an act of treason!
I agree that anyone who would participate in any form of election rigging is committing a form of treason, at least in the vernacular sense. I’d love to hear a lawyer’s detailed take on it. Someone suggested to me yesterday that just with the results so far someone could get an “injunction” on Biden’s campaign. I’d like to know if this is in any way practical or just too far fetched to entertain… and who exactly would have standing to do so? Anyone who voted in one of the affected states? Only an opposing campaign? Would this have to be in state court or federal count? Then there’s all the voter suppression in highly targeted areas, especially Latinx communities, that could be added maybe to such an effort. Honestly, there are moments this all makes me so depressed I don’t even want to talk about it… but I soon recover and feel that fire in my belly to do something about this problem… but it’s going to take a movement I think with lots of people involved. It would help if one of the campaigns/candidates got involved and really started calling out this stuff.
Cindy, I would like the answer to this question as well. (Who has standing to file a lawsuit, and against whom should it be filed?) So far, it does not seem that Bernie will do it. Tulsi might. We may need to band together as citizens in a class action in order to make it happen. This [unverifiable election outcomes] cannot be allowed to stand. Bob Fitrakis has been doing election integrity work for a while, but I think we can see from the 2020 primary thus far that it isn’t getting any traction. If lawsuits are ineffective, what’s next? General strike?
A suit was filed for the previous elections cycle and the DNC won, based on the argument that it is their nomination process and they can do whatever they want to pick the winner. Basically they can ignore all votes and install whoever they want, however they want. The election process is just a facade.
DNC has said publicly (reported on npr) that their job isn’t fairness or service to country or party. They’re a corporatist player, so my interpretation is that they mean to protect to corporate aristocracy and not election integrity. If so, then they’re not making a secret of it.
In short, the DNC is a Corporation
What you said is true but why are we allowing a ‘privately’ owned corporation to control something that is at the core of our democracy? I really know the answer and sadly it looks like we will be forced into another revolution to change it. The Act of 1871. THE CORPORATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
There was a class action lawsuit filed By Attorneys Jared and Elizabeth Beck. It is still in progress. http://jampac.us/dnclawsuit/
Not to mention outright theft. Think about all of the money people donated to this candidate or that candidate, if the elections are rigged, and they certainly appear to be so, all of the millions of dollars donated to all of the candidates other than the DNC picked one, Biden, was essentially stolen. All of Bernie’s record fund raising was worthless and stolen. All of the volunteers that spent time pounding the pavement, making phone calls, contributing and working for his candidacy worthless and stolen. Completely destroying and corrupting our election process and stealing or making millions of dollars of campaign donations worthless (sadly nothing new) is the kind of stuff people should be executed for.
How can we find out how many Republicans voted from #CreepyJoe to make sure that T-rump has an easy battle against Biden instead of having to work hard against Bernie. South Carolina and Virginia and the rest of the states on Super Tuesday? Plus it’s going to keep going on March 10, 17 and beyond.
This is SCARY! Because there is NO way to stop this, right?!?
Hello Ted, do you plan to share your findings with the media, campaigns or anyone who might be able to do something about this?? Deeply troubling and concerning if something malicious is at play here.
Hi Josh, the corporate media will not cover this, at least not now. They know full well what’s going on because they pay for the Edison Exit Polling Data (AP, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX) and they receive the exit poll data before it is “adjusted” (euphemism for making the exit poll data matched the rigged results). In fact, they cancelled these exit polls in CA in 2016 when a lawsuit was filed that would require them to retain the unadjusted numbers and provide them to the lawyer who launched the lawsuit. In other words, they’re complicit in what’s going on here. Having said that, I think it’s worth the time and effort to take these to local media and try to get the candidates/campaigns to speak out. It would also be great if we could get organizations to send this info out to their email lists. This would put pressure on the candidates to speak out and actually address the problem and maybe just maybe stop it from happening in future states. However, that should not be Ted’s job in all of this…. there are only so many hours in the day. That should be the job of many citizens, like you and me, each doing our little part, so I hope you will join us and take some initiative and start reporting this…. and to all other readers.
[…] Texas is a more interesting case, there is certainly evidence of voting places being closed down, and many were left waiting in long lines at precincts, well after the polls closed. I am entirely for a full audit and extended voting, but while working with the data we do have… let’s see if there’s any evidence of rigging for Joe! Here’s TDMS: […]
I’ve been thinking about how to get the word out fast and how to have the biggest impact…. I think we need to contact the Michigan offices of Rashida Tlaib immediately, plus her congressional office… and the Washington offices of Pramila Jayapal immediately, plus her congressional office. I also think we need to work on getting one or more of the super celebrities endorsing Bernie Sanders to speak out now….. actors/actresses/musicians/athletes/etc… the bigger the name the better and especially those who have been on the trail with him/performed at his rallies. I’ve been tweeting at Michael Moore for a while now but we need to contact them all and not just by social media. Politicians will be much more reticent to speak out than celebrities I think and celebrities can garner massive attention with one tweet and or one press conference… plus that would FORCE the corporate media to cover it, even if negatively. I’m going to ask here for help…. and lots of help!!! Can you help? Anyone have a connection to any of these people? It would even be good if people could show up in person at these offices and rallies with signs and try to talk to people in person.
I emailed Michael Moore and Shaun King yesterday about a screenshot that is going around from the Michigan primary…one where Sanders seemed to actually LOSE 300,000 votes in a 2 minute time span, while all others gained a few. Haven’t received a response yet. Contacting Tlaib and Jayapal is a good idea.
Thank you so much for this data. Can you just help/link me to the raw exit poll data or from CNN’s website, or wherever the data is so I can see the proof? I totally believe the fraud and corruption here but just need to see the data first. There’s the PDF from CNN’s exit poll but I don’t see anywhere on it that simply just has basic vote totals? I only see the demographics and categorical questions? Unless I’m missing something..
It’s infuriating how treasonous and amoral this is if they are rigging this (again) against Sanders. The fact they try so hard to do this is evidence of why it’s so important to get someone like Sanders in the white house.
I understand why some members of the corporate media won’t cover this or act on it.. but why not The New York Times? Vox? Would NPR? The guys at Crooked Media? Any entity with journalistic integrity, a platform, and who isn’t corrupt as hell? 🙁
The link is in the page, first citation under the graph. You have to use the “Gender” part of the poll, because they don’t do a simple exit poll on candidates. I’ve been trying to spread this where I can. An activist in the Green Party I know, Facebook pages/groups, sent it to some progressive media. People like Lee Camp and Graham Elwood have been bringing it up, but this should be all we’re talking about if this is accurate.
We are kindred spirits Nick. Thank you for all your efforts.
P.S. I have full confidence that Ted is being unbelievably careful with his analysis and that what he is describing is true and based on FACTS. He’s also very open to discussion with other “techie” people which is always a great sign…. a sign of a truth teller!
The New York Times and Vox get a lot of their news from AP, as do the vast majority of the newspapers and print publications in the US. AP is “in on it!” They are one of the six in the media consortium that pays for and receives the Edison Research data… they KNOW the exit poll data is being “adjusted” (again, what a euphemism for a coverup) to matched the rigged results. As for NPR, they’ve been in a rapid decline since they started accepted corporate funding… that’s the key, just like with the candidates…. corporate funding. That’s why we’re having to work so hard to go AROUND these corporate funded media outlets to get the word out… to get the TRUTH out. Sounds like you understand what’s really going on… please help us spread the word… please help us contact each of the candidates affected, especially Bernie, but also Tulsi, Tom Steyer, etc… even Andrew Yang who dropped out really early…. and their teams.. and their surrogates. Contact celebrities who are supporting them and ask them to speak out…. we only need one or a few to do so and this thing blows up!
The author has donated to Sanders for years. Bias at play here? And apparently is finding discovering that Bernie is getting screwed in primary after primary. What are the chances? Lol.
You are spamming all my posts with untruth. Once more and you will be banned from this site,
Well if it isn’t a Bernie hater who looks facts in the face and says,
Then God be blessed, it is the blessèd sun.
But sun it is not, when you say it is not,
And the moon changes even as your mind.
What you will have it named, even that it is,
And so it shall be so for Katherine.
Hi Ted, I’m getting different numbers than you using the same Texas Gender exit poll you linked. In Texas, the exit poll has Bernie getting 34% of the 44% male respondents and 27% of the 56% female respondents, which projects him getting around 30% of the total computerized results, not 34%. In your analysis, are you using only the male sample to generate your exit poll estimate? That seemed to be the case here and in California because only the male numbers from CNN aligned with what you have for the exit poll estimating. That would be very problematic if so, given the candidates perform differently across genders (In Texas, Male for Biden: 34%, Female for Biden: 33%, compared to Bernie’s numbers above). Biden’s 33% of women vs. Bernie’s 27% appears to be the difference you are observing in the reported results. I know you say the exit polls are adjusted, but it seems unlikely that they would move that much. It’s hard to take your numbers seriously without a source that aligns with your data for the exit polls, and claims of election fraud should not be made lightly.
Don’t know what exit poll you’re looking at but look again. My proportions are correct. Just checked because mistakes can happen!
[…] “There is good reason to believe that the exit poll just prior to publishing showed a Sanders win in Texas.“ […]
[…] that closed an hour earlier than the small sliver in the central time zone, to alter, as is their normal practice, the exit poll to conform to the vote totals. After this hour’s adjustments the exit poll used […]
Just saw this petition (and signed it) calling for the UN to monitor our elections, giving Ted’s exit poll research as a reason: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/u-n-is-needed-to-oversee-democratic-primaries-due-to-election-fraud
Lee Camp certainly has a way of driving the point home! This one is so well done, maybe we put part of it in a commercial!
I don’t know if you all have mulled over the exit polling discrepancies by state, but if you haven’t here it is.
[…] with 34% of the vote. But when the votes were finally counted, Sanders dropped down to 30%, which exceeded the 2.9% exit poll margin of error. Just as in the Iowa caucus, the irregularity in the electoral process worked significantly against […]
So CNN polls are to be believed more than actual vote counts right? That’s the premise of this “research”? There’s nothing magical about exit polls – they’re simply polls. It’s amusing to me that Sanders supporters spent all the primary calling polls fake and now they’re saying not only are CNN polls NOT fake, they actually are MORE legit then the vote count. It’s just funny.
Good point Linda. This website is full of shit.
[…] to conduct exit polling. Joe Lenski, its executive vice president, has candidly admitted that Edison massages its exit poll data once official vote counts have been released to align the exit po… Indeed, the whole argument about vote flipping is possible only because researchers have been able […]