November 10, 2004


My friend Ken Layne -- currently shoplifting in Reno to cover election-related gambling debts -- mentions this curious report from a liberal radio host:

Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the AP report.

Ken writes:

The only part of this story that really interests me is Karen Hughes telling Dubya he was The Loser. I can't find this in any newspaper online. Did anyone tape-record this AP news update on the radio? Was it actually broadcast, or just on a network feed, or did it never happen? Does this possibly explain why the Fox News team seriously looked like they were about to commit mass suicide? It was clear -- just as it was in 2000 -- that Fox News was privy to the internal White House information.

Lots of people were. A friend at a rival US media company called after the exit poll news to say that his White House sources were telling him the same thing: that the election was lost. In fact, on the strength of those sources, his company was planning nothing but massive "KERRY WINS!" coverage. Took them a while to turn things around after the exit polls were revealed to be wrong ...

Posted by Tim Blair at November 10, 2004 01:28 PM

I move that "exit polls" as a blog subject jumped the shark at approximately 2am Monday morning, and therefore should be replaced by a new obsession. Do I hear any "yea's"?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 10, 2004 at 01:37 PM

Well, it was in the Newsweek account afterward. Only I dont recall its happening at 12:20am in any time zone in the 48 contiguous. WDEVa US station, rignt?

Aside from that, Andrea is of course right.

Posted by: ForNow at November 10, 2004 at 01:46 PM

It was clear -- just as it was in 2000 -- that Fox News was privy to the internal White House information.

Uhhh, Layne realizes that the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy wasn't in the White House in 2000, right?

Posted by: Otter at November 10, 2004 at 01:48 PM

That was my first thought as well - does he mean internal Republican information?

Posted by: attila at November 10, 2004 at 01:53 PM

More likely, Fox News was the source of the information that was bothering the White House.

Exit polls are of limited utility to a campaign, but of enormous value to a "news" outlet.

Posted by: Andy Freeman at November 10, 2004 at 02:23 PM

Yet there are also recent reports that Rove was quick to discount them (after an initial shock), ran some numbers, and reported to the President that the exit polls were wrong and he would be re-elected.

Those exit polls were way out of line with every other poll for months beforehand (Generally showing Bush up in a range from +1 to +5).

I also wonder if Hughes would tell him that he "lost". She might have told him things didn't look good, but...

Posted by: BS at November 10, 2004 at 02:41 PM

Tuesday afternoon I was reading exit polls and feeling very sad. Not suicidal but the people that I work with kept their distance.

Ohmygod, I'm part of the White House- Fox News conspiracy, too.

Do conspirators get paid? I have a window that I have to replace and a check from the RNC would come in handy now.

Posted by: John Davies at November 10, 2004 at 02:54 PM

Lots of people were.

Now that's just mean, taking the whiff of kon-spear-a-see out of Layne's post like that.

I'm sick to death of exit polls as a topic, but what's hilarious is how many people I see scratching their heads and "reasoning" that if the exit polls said "Kerry" and the votes said "Bush" then, then, then there must have been voter fraud! What, people never lie to pollsters anymore?

Posted by: ilyka at November 10, 2004 at 02:54 PM

ilyka: What, people never lie to pollsters anymore?

At least we're assured that the media-connected and partisan pollsters would never lie...

Posted by: A at November 10, 2004 at 03:13 PM

Has anyone looked at the actual exit polls after the initial leak? Once their sample included the same population spread as the vote, they settled right down and now they correspond pretty well with the overall Bush/Kerry split. No huge advantage to Kerry, that is for sure. Or does this remove their opportunity to give themselves victim status? (I liked Venomous Kate's take on the early leaks - of course they were skewed towards the Dem's, GOP voters have jobs!!)

Posted by: SezaGeoff at November 10, 2004 at 03:21 PM

Exit Poles 5: Split My Line

Posted by: Jim Treacher at November 10, 2004 at 05:41 PM

I agree with Andrea.

Posted by: zzx375 at November 10, 2004 at 09:52 PM


why have them at all. I pretty much missed the whole fuss about them as I was at work all day and didn't pay attention until the real votes were being counted. Surely they only exist as a media beat up.

Posted by: mike.a at November 11, 2004 at 12:26 AM

Saw Karen Hughes on one of the cable nets on election night, and she gave basically the same story quoted here. She didn't tell Bush he was THE LOSER, but she did tell him the exits looked bad.

In fact, the exits did get closer to reality as the day went on, but they still skewed towards Kerry. That's why all the nets called Pennsylvania for Kerry so quick while they waited forever in Ohio. PA actually turned out closer than OH in both percentage and number of votes. But the exits said Kerry was winning PA big, so everybody called it.

Lots of people in the media want to forget the story, so it will disappear down the memory hole. Maybe somebody will poke around to see if the polls were diddled, but this is NOT something most of the media want to pursue. There's more than a little of the SezaGeoff tude in the American media.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 11, 2004 at 12:36 AM

I said it before, and I'l say it again. Painting in very broad strokes-

People who can vote in the daytime tend to vote Democrat.

People who work for a living vote Republican when they get out of work at 5:00.

Early exit polls will ALWAYS skew Democrat.

Posted by: Dave S. at November 11, 2004 at 04:19 AM

By the way, would you kindly talk Ken down off the ledge or take away the pejote or something.

Posted by: Patrick at November 11, 2004 at 04:44 AM

A friend said an exit poller asked her who she voted for. She said the first thing that popped into her mind was "the plastic turkey." The poller didn't bother to write that down. Hmmmm. Wonder if that skewed anything.

Posted by: Chrees at November 11, 2004 at 05:25 AM

Oh, and I don't know if you can do an intervention with your friend, Tim, but I highly recommend it. He appears to have gone off the deep end (and his meds) about the time Zell Miller stepped on stage. His Jesusland tirade just confirms it.

Posted by: Chrees at November 11, 2004 at 05:37 AM

Maybe that internal Clinton White House information was why FOX called Florida for Gore in 2000 while the polls were still open there.

Good thing for guys like Rove and Ken Mehlman and Matthew Dowd who held the line and kept the troops marching to the front by insisting that the exit polls were all wrong.

Posted by: Crank at November 11, 2004 at 08:29 AM

FWIW, I voted before work, mostly for Republicans. The polls (= voting places) here were open from 7 am to 8 pm. But Maryland is far from a swing state, and I didn't see any exit pollers. (Or to look at it another way, if Maryland is close then the election is not.)

Posted by: PJ/Maryland at November 11, 2004 at 08:30 AM

The liberals wanted to see if they could start a stampede. It didn't work. This is another story the MSM will never cover.

Posted by: kjo at November 12, 2004 at 08:11 AM