So far, Pennsylvania exit polls provide little insight

Early leaks show conflicting numbers.


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Alex Koppelman
April 23, 2008 3:10AM (UTC)

Just can't wait until Pennsylvania's polls close at 8 p.m. local time to find out who's going to take the Keystone State, and by how much? Dying for the inside scoop on what all the reporters and pundits surely already know about the results? Don't get your hopes up yet.

Thus far, we've seen two media outlets leak what are supposedly the candidate preference numbers from early exit polls. (These early results should, we emphasize, be taken with a large amount of the proverbial salt.) The Drudge Report says that, with 52 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton is beating Barack Obama, who's got 48 percent. But at the National Review's Campaign Spot blog, Jim Geraghty says otherwise; his numbers show Obama with 52 percent and Clinton trailing with 47 percent.

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Which number will eventually be borne out? We don't really know. To add to the confusion, here are two factors to consider as you make up your own mind. First, as several observers, including Geraghty, have noted, thus far the exit polls have tended to predict a better result for Obama than he actually ended up with, giving him about seven more percentage points than the final results do. But then, we've also been noticing a lot of expectations gaming from both campaigns, and the Clinton camp -- in remarks by the candidate herself, and in a memo the campaign sent out -- does seem to be trying to downplay expectations for the margin of victory in the event Clinton, as expected, wins the state. Earlier Tuesday, Clinton told reporters, "I think a win is a win. Maybe I'm old-fashioned about that."


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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