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Fox News Decision Desk Director: Unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots making exit polls more obsolete

Fox News Decision Desk Director Arnon Mishkin said the large number of mail-in ballots will make exit polling very difficult in this year's election.

"This is in many respects an unprecedented election because of the huge growth of mail-in ballots," Mishkin said in a phone interview with The Hill.

He said mail-in votes will likely represent 60 percent of the total vote and that votes are not included in exit polling. 

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Fox pulled out of the exit polling by major networks after the 2016 race in part because it did not reflect mail-in voting. 

"At the same time, one of the reasons that Fox left the national election pool after 2016 was because we thought the historical exit poll, which the networks have been conducting basically since 1992, did not do enough to cover the mail-in vote, which even the early vote, which was 40 percent of the vote in 2016," Mishkin said. "This time, it will be around 60 percent of the vote."

Fox News and The Associated Press said two years ago they would end their practice of conducting exit polls and replace them with a voter survey that would be conducted over the course of several days.

The service, called Fox News Voter Analysis by the network and AP VoteCast by the wire service, is in conjunction with NORC at the University of Chicago.

Mishkin said he disagreed that polls showing Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE with a big lead nationally and in swing states over President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE are missing hidden Trump supporters. 

Earlier this week, Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly told Fox News he sees Trump being reelected, citing a "hidden vote."

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"What we’ve noticed is that these polls are predominantly missing the hidden Trump vote. There is a clear feeling among conservatives and people that are for the president that they’re not interested in sharing their opinions readily," Cahaly said. "These people are more hesitant to participate in polls. So if you’re not compensating for this, you’re not going to get honest answers.”

Mishkin said he didn't think it was appropriate for a pollster to assume they weren't getting certain kinds of voters. 

"I don't think it's appropriate for a pollster to assume that 'I'm not getting these kinds of voters to answer my questions' and therefore to wait accordingly. I do think it's appropriate for pollsters to look at the undecided number and think, 'Wait, is this going to swing to the incumbent or swing away from the incumbent?' That's fair," Mishkin explained. "So when I look at polling and when I help produce a poll, I never try to put those weights in."

Trump has railed against Fox News polling during his tenure, citing without evidence the polls "are totally fake."

Trump currently trails Biden in three of four states in Fox News's latest poll in key midwest battleground states.