04 November 2008

ACTUAL PRESIDENTIAL VOTES: The Least Scientific Poll Ever

How's the 2008 presidential election going so far? We won't know the full story for a while. It's just past 1:00 p.m. where I am and the polls are hours from closing. The news networks will probably be reticent about their exit polls unless they see signs of a landslide. Personally, I'd like to see live running tallies while the polls are open. I think the technology exists, and if anything, keeping score like that would tend to increase turnout, since the parties would see what they need to catch up or take the lead and most likely act accordingly. Since no such system exists today, the best I can do is offer you a very informal Google exit poll.

All I did was to type in the exact phrase "I voted for" followed by the names of the six viable candidates (those with a theoretical chance of winning the electoral vote) and set the search to get postings from the past 24 hours. This leaves out people who voted early and leaves in a number of commercial posts selling "I Voted For So-&-So" merchandise. The latter detail especially inflates the numbers for Senators McCain and Obama. With those caveats in mind, here are the numbers as of 1:00 p.m.

Baldwin: 22 votes
Barr: 77
McCain 1,104
McKinney 10
Nader 117
Obama 2,518

Nader's numbers, I fear, are inflated by people who write that "I voted for Nader" in 2000 or 2004. Similarly, McCain and Obama's totals may be inflated by people who write that "I voted for" them in the primaries or in previous elections. As well, repetition is likely if any prominent person posts and is quoted using the magic phrase in someone else's post.

Here's an odd detail: more third-party voters are on a first-name basis with their candidates. That is, you get more results if you type in "I voted for Bob Barr" than "I voted for Barr." The same applies to Baldwin and McKinney. For McCain, Nader and Obama the reverse is true. The numbers above combine the results for last-name and full-name searches.

Taking all my cautions into account, there's a significant gap separating Obama and McCain that may be explained only in part by a greater likelihood of Democrats and liberals to blog. If anything, I would have expected better numbers for Barr, since people online supposedly have a libertarian bent. On the other hand, many "small-L" libertarians see Barr as a phony, and may be voting accordingly.

I may repeat this experiment later to see if trends emerge peculiar to the day. If I do, I'll also extend the search back a week or so to catch early voters. Consider it my public service to dead-end election junkies who can't wait for more substantial information.

1 comment:

Samuel Wilson said...

This is a test for housekeeping purposes only.