As primary voting winds down towards late afternoon today, I bet you’ll start hearing a lot of rumors about this exit poll and that exit poll. Disregard them. There are no Nationwide Exit Polls that I know of this time around. A few local candidates are doing them, yes, but as far as I’ve been able to ascertain there is nothing planned for the presidential primary.
Why? Because Exit Polls have a terrible track record in Venezuela (and elsewhere). Because they’re expensive and siphon off way too much manpower that the campaigns would prefer to devote to their mobilization efforts. Because getting enough staff trained to a high enough level to ensure an unbiased sample is very hard. Because nobody’s really confident that the methodological challenges can be addressed successfully. And because this happened.
Instead, what we’ll get are “Quick Counts” aplenty. First, a representative sample of voting centers is selected. Then, as soon as voting is done in one of the center’s tables and the machine has printed out a result, an on-site volunteer phones it in to Caracas. (You don’t even have to wait for the whole voting center to finish voting; you can phone in results for the first table that closes, which is much faster.) Then you tabulate those results and what you get is seldom more than 1.5% away from the nationwide outcome.
Quick counts are nearly as fast as exit polls, way cheaper, and far, far more accurate. So, today, look for the quick counts, ignore the bullshit.