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EXIT POLLS / EXPLAINER

How to read exit polls

To illustrate how exit poll results should be read, let's use the following hypothetical results as an illustration.

VOTE BY GENDER SMITH JONES BROWN
TOTAL
2004
2000
2004
2004
Male (43%)
46%
-7
53% 1%
Female (57%)
50%
+5
48% 2%

The first column of numbers shows how many people who voted today fell into each category. In our example, that means 43 percent of all voters were men and 57 percent were women.

All other figures show how each category voted. The numbers should be read across (which is why you may occasionally hear them referred to as "horizontal results"). In the example, that means that 46 percent of all men voted for Smith and 53 percent of all men voted for Jones. Looking at the next line, Smith won 50 percent of the women's vote to 48 percent for Jones.

The 2000 column represents the difference in the number of percentage points -- either an increase or decrease -- between the 2004 exit poll responses and the responses in 2000 to the Voter News Service exit polls. In the example, that means the -7 indicates a decrease of 7 percentage points in the number of male voters for Smith between 2000 and 2004.

In the actual exit poll results, the 2000 column applies only to President Bush and appears only on state exit polls.



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NOTE
• All Times Eastern Standard
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