As part of a cost-saving measure, the TV news organizations and the AP (which together comprise the National Election Pool) plan to cut back on exit polling for the 2012 election.
Instead of exit poll results from all 50 states, polls will only be conducted in 31 states, with 19 cut out. The end result will likely be evident on election night, as the lack of data from 19 states could very well affect when those states are called for a particular candidate.
Dan Merkle, director of elections for ABC News, and a member of the consortium that runs the exit poll, confirmed the shift Wednesday. The aim, he said, “is to still deliver a quality product in the most important states,” in the face of mounting survey costs…
Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won’t be available as they have been since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research for years to come.
Update: Merkle also spoke at a bit more length to the NY Times, which also has the states that will be excluded.
“We are simply shifting resources to get the best coverage we can: beefing up the national sample, beefing up the telephone polls, beefing up the battleground states,” he said.
While the poll will almost certainly have an impact on election night, it will have an even bigger one for research. Exit poll data is vital when examining how many members of different groups come out to vote. National polls can help fill that data set, but aren’t as granular.