Last month, Reuters announced an exclusive partnership with the National Election Pool (NEP) to distribute results and polling for the 2022 U.S. mid-term elections and the 2024 presidential election. Reuters News Agency customers will be able to purchase fast and accurate real-time results and exit polling via a distribution collaboration with the NEP, with research conducted by Edison Research.
The NEP, a consortium comprising ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News, works with Edison Research to provide accurate and timely nationwide vote tabulation, exit polls, election projections and delegate estimates. The NEP is the only organization to supply national and state exit polls in the U.S., and they are the only source of projections and comprehensive analysis that includes the opinions of actual voters as they leave their early voter and election day polling places.
“Our partnership with Reuters means that our race projections are being seen by billions more people around the world. Edison’s philosophy towards declaring election winners focuses on accuracy, not speed. Above all, we want to be correct. Our data’s integrity and reputation are our top priority,” explained Rob Farbman, Executive Vice President, Edison Research. “With the U.S. elections being such a big story internationally, Reuters is the perfect partner to expand our reach beyond the U.S. In 2020 Reuters did just that, with new subscribers across the world.”,”
Here, Farbman offers insight into Edison’s research methodology and why election data is so important:
Q. Why is the data the NEP and Edison Research provides important to news organizations and the public?
A. Edison serves three primary functions for its clients: Vote Count, Polling, and Race Calls.
Edison’s job is to collect and tabulate the vote as reported to us by counties and states around the country and to do that accurately and promptly. This task has always been necessary because of the decentralized election system in the U.S. In many countries, a central government entity will collect and tabulate the national vote and release it on Election Night. In the U.S., the media has long assumed that role. The fact that the vote count has become controversial over the past several years makes it crucial that we do our job with great care and transparency.
Edison Research has been the exclusive provider of election exit poll data to the National Election Pool since 2003. Our polling data plays a significant role in analyzing the vote and explaining the will of the American people. The National Election Pool puts substantial resources into our polling. This consortium allows us to conduct high-quality probability-based polls with very large sample sizes. We can analyze subgroups of the electorate that, in other polls, are too small of a segment to provide accurate analysis. Trust in our data is a big responsibility, and we take this responsibility seriously.
Q. How is Edison’s polling unique?
A. Edison’s polling is unique because we are the only firm with in-person Election Day exit polls in its analysis. In 2020, between our Election Day and early voter exit polls, we had interviewers at almost 1000 precincts and early voting centers. Our early voter exit polls use the same techniques developed for our Election Day exit polls. We select a sample of early voting centers in crucial states and interview people right after they cast their ballot. These surveys are conducted throughout the early voting period leading up to Election Day in that state. Between our election day and early voter exit polls, we know we are talking to actual voters, not “likely” or “probable” voters. Also unique to our exit polls is that we can interview voters up to Election Day; any other poll, whether online or by phone, will likely conduct all or most of its interviewing well before Election Day. There are many elections where late deciders have tipped an election outcome. Our methodology makes it less likely that we will miss that trend.
Q. How have your polling efforts changed since the last election?
A. When we started working with the National Election Pool in 2004, only 20% of the electorate voted absentee, so our Election Day exit poll captured most voters’ opinions and voting intention. With the expansion of by-mail and early voting (to a high of 67% in 2020), our exit poll has evolved to combine multiple survey modes. We aim to use the best possible methodology to accurately survey all kinds of voters – Election Day, early in-person, and by mail. Since 2004 we have supplemented our exit polls with phone polls to account for absentee voters. In 2020, with the dramatic increase in absentee voting, we increased this telephone survey segment significantly. We sampled voters using a Registration Based Sample and polled 30,000 respondents by telephone before Election Day. Our survey identified absentee voters that we could not reach through in-person surveys. Our national survey and every state survey the NEP released in 2020 included a combination of methodologies to measure the vote and opinions of all voters.
We are constantly working to improve our polling, and recent changes in how people vote have required innovation and improvements that we are implementing for 2022 and 2024. As our early voter exit polls have proven to work well, we plan to expand this segment of our survey. While the NEP members and Edison are committed to interviewing voters in-person in as many cases as possible, we will continue to adapt to changes in voting behavior to produce the best research possible.
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