Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two more weeks until Election Day

In a way I can't wait and in a way I dread it.

If things go smoothly we will know who will be the next President of the United States. Will it be John McCain, Barack Obama, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney or Chuck Baldwin? I know one of those names you've never heard of (you know the curse of being a third party candidate), but the others have served in Congress either as a Senator will obviously in the case of McCain and Obama or in the case of Barr & McKinney in the US House of Representatives where they used to hold seats.

Let me take back my statement on third party candidates. We've all heard of Ross Perot or Ralph Nader. I recall a few years back that Nader had some support because no one was particularly happy with either George W. Bush or Al Gore as they vied for the Presidency in 2000. In which case what's the difference between a Perot or a Nader vs. Baldwin. At least Baar who is the standard bearer for the Libertarian Party and McKinney who's the standard bearer of the Green Party have name recognition. We might especially remember McKinney for the controversy that caused her to lose the Congressional Seat she's held in 2006. BTW, Baldwin represents the Constitution Party.

In any event I don't have much news on my end. I expect to do some exit polling on Election Day down here in Atlanta. This is connection with Morehouse and the goal is to track the behavior of black voters in the city. Morehouse's Brisbane Institute is also coordinating with Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi to conduct exit polling of black voters there.

There was a sample size I forgot the number that the coordinators of this project was shooting for, but I heard Gallup goes for at least 1200 to represent the entire nation. However I do believe this project is shooting for a larger sample size than that and surely this is supposed to reflect the voting behavior of blacks all over the nation. Besides in this election turnout is expected to be high for blacks, is the primary reason because of Sen. Obama's run for the Presidency? Hopefully these exit polls will establish why blacks chose to vote on Election Day in two weeks.

Of course in order to assure that a single voter who takes part in the exit poll survey could very represent say 100 people or 200 people. That number of course will be numerically quantified in time depending upon how the sample is proportional to the population. I wonder if the statistical margin of error will have a role in the sample proportion.

Anyway the expectation here is that in offering the survey to voters who have voted at the polls we won't be handing surveys to every single voter. We might have to do every 3rd or 5th voters or however random it has been determined that we should be. Perhaps that's especially important if one voter is suppose to reflect however many black voters that this one voter is suppose to represent.

I'm sure most of you reading this blog are familiar with exit polls. There are more than a few elections where relying on exit polls became troublesome. Exit polls have been used by the media to call an election. This was the case in Florida in 2000, exit polls were released before the closing of the polls in the Florida panhandle. Of course we know about the confusion that occurred on election night and lasted into December of that year when George W. Bush was finally declared the winner in Florida and thus the Presidency.

I want to also note that in 2004, exit polls had predicted a victory by John Kerry. Exit poll figures were leaked onto the internet and there were discrepancies between the exit poll data and the vote count was outside the margin of error. Compound this problem with irregularities in the election.

I'm sure that this project will have learned some lessons from what happened in past elections. I'm not totally sure if the data in this poll could be used to call an election. This project is expected to be academic anyway of course the main idea again is to have some type of projection of Black voting behavior.

Also there is supposed to be a watch party for this election in Forbes Arena open to all students. So election day should be an exciting day for students in the Atlanta University Center. The majority of students, I would expect, will be largely in the tank for Barack Obama. They hope their boy will win this election, but on that day we shall see.

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