How to Read the CNN Exit Poll Data

Exit poll can be referred to as a "CNN Exit Poll" or a "Voter News Survey exit poll conducted for CNN." You do not need to report a sampling error for exit polls. Now an important note about how to read the results. Let's look at the following actual results from the Louisiana caucuses: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Exit Poll Question All < Vertical Pcts > < Horizontal Pcts > and Answer(s) Pct BCHN DOLE FORB GRAM BCHN DOLE FORB GRAM KEYS UNCM KEYS UNCM -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vote by Gender Men 56 53 0 0 58 46 1 2 35 0 0 5 6 Women 44 47 0 0 42 51 1 3 33 0 0 3 5 First, look at the column marked "All Pct." This indicates the number of poll respondents who belong to each category. In the example above, 56% of the Louisiana voters were men; 44% were women. Next -- and this is very important -- note that the columns to the left are marked "Vertical Pcts" and the ones on the right are marked "Horizontal Pcts." What's the difference? A very important one. Look under the "Vertical" percentages column marked "GRAM" which clearly stands for Gramm voters. The "58" means that 58% of Gramm voters were men. The "42" indicates that 42% of Gramm voters were women. Now look at the "GRAM" column at the far right of the screen. Since it is in the "Horizontal Pcts" section, the numbers have a different meaning. The "35" means that 35% of the men who participated in the caucus voted for Gramm. The "33" indicates that 33% of female voters chose Gramm. Confused? Here's a simple rule: in nearly every case, you want to use the numbers in the "Horizontal Pcts" section. That is because you want to tell your viewers how men (or whites, or moderates, or 18-to-29 year olds) voted. 55% of women voted for Dole. 32% of conservatives voted for Keyes. 67% of whites voted for Buchanan. The "Vertical Pcts" column describes the make-up of Dole voters, or Gramm voters, or Forbes voters. 57% of Dole voters were men. 67% of Keyes voters were conservatives. 97% of Buchanan voters were white. Only rarely will you want to describe the election in this fashion. Finally, you see that some columns are "double-stacked" -- like the one marked "BCHN KEYS." This is because in primaries there can be so many candidates that they don't all fit on one line. In the "BCHN KEYS" column in the "Horizontal section, for example, the top number (46) corresponds to Buchanan ("BCHN") voters. The bottom number (5) corresponds to Keyes ("KEYS") voters. In other words -- since these are "horizontal percentages" -- 46% of men voted for Buchanan and 5% of men voted for Keyes. The next two rows of numbers show that 51% of women voted for Buchanan and 3% of women voted for Keyes.

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