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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Election 2012

Don't Make Too Much of Early Exit Polls

Election 2012 in Virginia, a swing state. Yorktown High School, a polling place in Arlington, VA.(Rick Bloom)

photo of Jim O'Sullivan
November 6, 2012

With exit polls and “x-percent reporting” pseudo results pelting the political landscape and its denizens, the only states called by networks for either candidate were the “gimmes.” According to network projections, Mitt Romney took Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, South Carolina, and Oklahoma. President Obama nabbed Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois, and the District of Columbia.

Polls closed at 7 p.m. in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and parts of Florida, and at 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina and Ohio. The next wave of closings, at 8 p.m., includes closely watched spots like the rest of Florida, eastern Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

And, early on, the data has been mixed. Exit polls in Virginia showed that non-white turnout, crucial for Obama’s re-election hopes, had fallen to 27 percent from 30 percent four years ago. That’s a discouraging sag for Democrats, but not as steep as Republicans had hoped. If the decades-long decline in the white vote is arrested tonight, it’s bad news for Democrats.

 

After the 8 p.m. wave, the next key states to watch in the 9 p.m. hour are Colorado, Michigan’s remainder, and Wisconsin.

And, of course, the earliest the contest could be called is 11 p.m., when polls close in the rest of the Lower 48.

 

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