The Leak Goes On

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (and a very irritating one at that), here we go again: Kathryn Jean Lopez has posted preliminary exit poll numbers for Virginia and Tennessee on the National Review’s blog.

Media organizations that have access to data from the National Election Pool, which conducts exit polls on behalf of the major networks, are barred from releasing it before the polls close (7 p.m. EST in Virginia, 8 p.m. EST in Tennessee). The reasoning is this: While early exit polls don’t necessarily correspond to the final tally, if voters hear about the results early, they may be discouraged from voting. By publishing these leaked numbers, Lopez is contributing to that possibility.

Moreover, there’s a second danger here: That releasing these numbers early on the Internet will eventually pressure major news organizations into releasing them early in order to avoid getting scooped. And the wider the distribution of these numbers, the larger the potential effect on the vote.

Wonkette has already linked to National Review’s numbers (evidently she does not have them herself), asking “Oh, person who used to send me these, why has thou forsaken me?”

Perhaps, in this case, the answer is that discretion is the better part of valor.

Bryan Keefer

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Bryan Keefer was CJR Daily’s deputy managing editor.