Feb 9, 2016 11:01 AM
Landrigan: Exit polls - This is what the media wants to know after you vote in the NH Primary
CONCORD - Those exit pollsters badgering you after casting a ballot would love to crawl inside your brain on how, when and why you came to the all-important choice in the first-in-the-nation primary today.
NH1 News obtained a copy of that super confidential questionnaire given to those voters who agree to fill it out and turn it in to the experts conducting this exit poll for the media networks cooperative.
This is by far the most important, undercover intelligence the media has as it waits for the actual votes to be counted tonight.
CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC and Associated Press will all produce trend stories and on air commentary built upon the interviews of voters at a representative sampling of polling places at targeted precincts across the state.
The profiling is extensive, but predictable as they want your age, your nationality and your gender along with who you voted for.
And they keep careful track of who turns down the offer to do the poll and the sheet NH1 obtained disclosed that four men and three women had said no, six of them, age 30-59 and one of them over 60 years old.
The reason they compile this information is to ensure that their sample has been validly collected. For example, if say 90 percent of those who refused the survey were over 60 then they would have to ask many more older voters to fill it out than the younger voters who got to participate in the exit poll.
Now to the questions.
There’s the why: "Which was the more important in your vote for President today? My candidate’s positions on the issues or my candidate’s leadership/personal qualities?
There’s the when: "When did you finally decide for whom to vote in the presidential primary? Just today; in the last few days; sometime in the last week; last month, or before that?’’
And there’s the how - the key question for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race: "Would you like the next President? Have experience in politics or be outside the political establishment?’’
There’s the question Republican candidate Marco Rubio dreads the most as someone who laid an egg in the last, televised debate of candidates on Saturday night: "How would you rate the importance of the most recent debates? The most important factor; one of several factors; a minor factor, and not a factor at all.”
Finally there’s the one pollsters love, the right track, wrong direction view of citizens looking out the front windshield put this way: "How will life for the next generation of Americans be: Better than life today; worse than life today, and about the same."
Exit polling is a science but there’s an art to it as well, and it’s not infallible.
Rewind to 1996 when CBS reported based on exit polls that New Hampshire Democratic Congressman Dick Swett had defeated Republican Congressman Bob Smith for a vacant, US Senate seat.
Smith got his Dewey Beats Truman headline and celebrated correcting CBS anchor Dan Rather to tell his supporters he had in fact beaten Swett to replace a retiring Sen. Gordon Humphrey, R-NH.