06/06/2008 12:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Exit Polls: A Look Back

Any of us that like to look at political survey data -- and that's just about anyone reading these words -- have something of a trove in the now completed exit polls conducted during the 2008 primaries. As the exit pollsters point out in their valedictory blog post, we have just concluded "the busiest primary season in the history of exit poll research." There have been some difficulties along the way, to be sure, but the resulting data set is "gargantuan, as ABC's Gary Langer puts it. In addition to the election night tabulations that we have pointed to regularly (available via these links from MSNBC, CNN, CBS and Fox) there are two new collections worth checking out:

First, Gary Langer and the ABC Polling Unit put together summary spreadsheets (in PDF format) for both the Democratic and Republican contests that allow for easy comparisons using comparable subgroups across every state. The tables include some subgroups not available on the standard network tables (such as breaking down education and income among white voters only). They cover, according to Langer, "79,281 interviews in all, conducted in 68 contests in 39 states, encompassing all the Democratic state primaries, the contested Republican primaries and the Iowa and Nevada caucuses."

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen points out the "biggest contribution" of these tables is the "NET" column on the far left of each page, which shows the results based on a compilation of results across all states.

Second, the New York Times has put together an amazing interactive graphic based on a the exit poll data in the same 39 states. The graphic displays the Obama Clinton vote preference for all states with exit poll broken out by sixteen different subgroups. You really need to interact with the graphic (by pointing and clicking) to understand it, but trust me when I say that the early reviews from the academic number crunchers -- "awesome," "damn this is cool" -- are well deserved. And if you'd rather let someone else show you what it can do, the comedian/activist Baratunde Thurston provides a guided video tour (h/t: TechPresident).


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