How To Watch Exit Poll Results On Election Night
You've cast your ballot, encouraged others to do the same, and maybe even volunteered with your preferred campaign. But when the polls are closing, you'll immediately want to know the one thing we've been watching, having Facebook arguments about, and generally freaking out about: Who won? Will the president the next four years be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Which party will control the Senate? Here's how to watch exit poll results on election night, because you can't wait any longer.
So rather than wait hours or days for the official results to come in, news organizations have long relied on exit polls to help call races more quickly. But that only works if the results are decisive. The easiest way for you to find these results is to turn on the TV. Every channel will have Election Day coverage that will call the race. Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the Associated Press all share the same exit poll data, so take your pick. They won't sit on any data for fear of getting scooped. So any broadcast or cable news channel is a good bet.
If you prefer the internet, try a live stream of a channel. YouTube will be streaming NBC, PBS, MTV, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks on Election Day, starting at 7 p.m. EST. Beyond that If you want to have the full map in front of you in real time on your computer, you can find a news organization like CNN that will update its election page in real time. The New York Times will also update its election page with interactive maps that show where the votes are coming from within a state, assuming it's like their coverage of the primaries.
But be careful about putting too much faith in the exit polls; they can be wrong, and there have been instances like in 2000 where exit polls called Florida for Al Gore, which after a month of recounts was finally decided in George W. Bush's favor. Articles from The New York Times and FiveThirtyEight explain why exit polls, especially the initial results, are often not correct.
For one thing, the poll results that come out immediately after voting ends may not include all the interviews that were conducted, and they aren't weighted to reflect the demographics of the state. If there are more elderly voters than those interviewed (or vice-a-versa) then statisticians would later try to use math to adjust for that.
Also, the way the data is collected is imperfect. For votes in person, only some precincts are chosen, but obviously in a diverse state, different precincts reflect perhaps just one subset of voters. Plus, for the increasing number of absentee voters, the in-person data collection has to be paired with telephone surveys.
So with all that said, find the results on TV or online, but make sure not to rely on exit polls for close races. And given that the battleground states will likely decide the race, exit polls might not help.