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by Charlotte Laws, Ph.D.
Tuesday, Nov. 09, 2004 at 2:45 AM
Some pundits wave election, exit poll results and argue that America is a "red" country immersed in conservative "red values." But there are several factors they seem to overlook: 1) Nader voters statistically trumped Bush voters on the "moral values" question, 2) "personal financial situation" seemed to be a decisive factor in the presidential election, and 3) exit polls are notoriously flawed.
The truly faithful have faith in exit polls, and disbelievers, well, they will have to take No Doze, eat fistfuls of Oreos into the night, and drag their sleepy heads to work the next morning. The unfaithful usually give up around 3 am. If the concession speech has not been made by then, the conceder is probably asleep. He is dreaming, of course, of his future: the million dollar lecture tour and his role as a highly paid advisor for one of the corporations who owes him a favor. Wink, wink.
The exit poll, an appendage of the American election process, is rarely questioned. It could be called the greatest invention since the wearable dog house, the hijacker ejector seat, knee skates, and the arm mitten—all real inventions, by the way.
After all, it was an exit poll that reported Gore had won the election in 2000 and that Kerry would defeat Bush in 2004. Could the exit poll be the Democrat's retaliation against the Fox News Network? After all, both purport themselves to be "fair and balanced" in a delusional sort of way.
The exit poll's most recent finding was that a predominant number of people cast their votes based on the issue of "moral values" and most of them were Bush supporters. Many journalists have argued that the original question was flawed, detailing how "moral values" is not a real issue and how the coupling of "Iraq" with "Terrorism"—two other options on the questionnaire—garners a much higher percentage of votes. Namely 34%, rather than the meager 22% that "moral values" draws in the CNN poll.
This is a reasonable conclusion since a large number of Americans think Iraq and terrorism are intimately connected and that the missing weapons of mass destruction are their truant offspring. Perhaps the WMDs are thumbing rides through Syria, knocking over Zam Zam Cola stores in Iran, or making sleazy video tapes in Pakistan with you-know-who.
If you closely analyze the results of the exit polls, you will learn two things that the experts have missed: 1) It could be the economy, Stupid, and 2) Nader beat Bush in the "moral values" department, even though Nader voters don't necessarily scramble into church every week, cringe at notion of gay marriage, or preach about the evils of pot smoking.
I say it "could be" the economy because I am toppling all confidence in exit polls while simultaneously using their data to make this point. A bit schizophrenic, but I never argued I was fair or balanced.
Both the CNN and CBS exit polls found that those who said their financial situation was worse than four years ago tended to choose Kerry (79% in CNN), while those with a perception of an improved situation largely cast their votes for Bush (80% in CNN). Those who felt their finances were the same tended to pick Nader (the bulk of voters in CNN and 60% in CBS). This data is much more convincing than anything related to moral values.
On the controversial topic of values, the CBS News exit poll—the only one to tally the statistical responses of Nader voters--asked, "Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?"
The result? For the "moral values" respondents, 8% were Kerry voters, 35% were Bush voters and a full 57% were Nader voters. Since Nader voters are not disproportionately social conservatives—both according to the same survey and common sense--the theory about the Reign of Middle American Values is flawed.
Millions of Blue subjects are not being pushed into the two oceans by their relativism; they simply live in their own kingdoms, ruled by their own belief systems. Nader voters probably place importance on things like protecting the environment, curtailing the gap between the rich and poor, and not waging war unilaterally in the Middle East. Although some may call these trivial issues as compared with protecting heterosexual marriage, they are indisputably values, too.
So the next time someone asks you, "What's black and white and Red all over?" Don't answer, "America" or "a newspaper."
Tell them, "A flawed exit poll." It is not really Red all over. Certain people just want you to think it is.
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