WFU First-year Seminar Conducts Exit Poll
On election day in November 2008, our exit poll interviewed 250 voters. Students began tallying the results at 3pm on election day; polls in North Carolina closed at 7pm (anyone in line at 7pm is allowed to vote). We first posted our results online around 7:45pm that evening.
We correctly predicted the results of all 5 contests, except for one county commissioner. For the president, senate, and governor races, our results were all within a couple percentage points of the actual results.
A summary of our results appears in the tables below; due to votes for third-party candidates, the totals do not sum to 100%.
We predicted the following winners (for Forsyth Co. votes only):
- President: Obama (D)
- US Senate: Hagan (D)
- Governor: Perdue (D)
- County Commissioner: Plyler (R), Whisenhunt (R), Young (D)
- Forsyth County Bonds: Yes
All of these predictions were correct, except for Young in the commissioner's race (see below).
One missed prediction: county commissioner race
The county commissioner race had 7 candidates vying for 3 seats. We correctly predicted the top two Republicans would win; however we showed that a Democrat, Nancy Young, would claim the third seat. Instead, she lost decisively, though she finished ahead of the other three candidates. Were our results biased for Young? Probably. Following the election, we learned of a simple explanation for Young’s appeal to our responders: she lives near the high school where we polled, and in this precinct her ‘hometown’ status helped her to finish second, a mere two votes behind Plyler. This precinct’s results closely match our exit poll data. With a better, more complicated poll design, we might have avoided this error.