Political reporter urges caution in reading into exit polls

Morning Consult reporter Cameron Easley on Friday urged caution when reading into Election Day exit polls, noting that they can be misinterpreted when compared to actual electoral results.

"I think a lot of the times what you find in the media, and I think it ends up harming the credibility of pollsters ultimately, is people misinterpret and misread data and then they want to blame the data," Easley told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." "So hopefully that is something that happens less going forward." 

Exit polls, which are taken as voters are leaving polling places, have long been a subject of criticism from political observers.

Columbia University professor Thomas Edsall argued in a March New York Times op-ed that exit polling in the 2016 presidential election underestimated the number of white, working-class voters, and overestimated the number of white, college-educated Democrats. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE's victory in the 2016 election can in part be attributed to the white working class vote in historically Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

"I think partly they are being asked what they're really not supposed to be able to do, which is predict winners," Marist Poll director Lee Miringoff said on Hill.TV.

"They tell us an awful lot about why people did what they did, and then what happens is the folks in the [networks], who support these polls and fund them, well they would like to know at 6 o'clock in the evening before the polls are closed an indication of what is happening," he continued. 

"This is a one-shot, for the general election, there's no dress rehearsals. This is a thankless task. I wouldn't want any part of doing it. I respect the people who do the exit polls because it is rough and the demands are enormous," he said. 

— Julia Manchester