This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Nov. 3, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: Beyond the questions that led to those misleading exit polls, beyond the horse race or any further insight that those exit polls might have provided as to what made the difference in this election. For answers to that and further discussion of all this, we turn to Michael BARONE:, senior writer of U.S. News & World Report (search) and Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, Fox News contributors both.
Before we move on to sort of what the exit polls have told us about preferences and all, any thoughts about how this horse race part of the exit polling went so badly?
MICHAEL BARONE:, SENIOR WRITER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, some of it wasn’t so bad as others. In other words, at one point they were saying that the — it was Kerry by 50-49.
HUME: That’s the national number?
BARONE:: That’s the national number. In fact, they were two points off on both candidates.
HUME: And that’s within the margin of error.
BARONE:: That is within probably a margin of error. Of course, the fact that this was a relatively close race meant that the lead came out on what turned out to be the wrong side. There were a few states, Brit, though where the numbers were really wacky: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire.
They were showing at one stage John Kerry with something like 58 or 59 percent. George W. Bush (search) correspondingly low figures. Those are far outside — the Kerry numbers were far outside what had been shown in any pre-election poll. And turned out to be wildly out of line with those states that were relatively close in the general election.
I had my suspicions that some Democrats, at some level, I do not think at the top levels of the Kerry campaign, or some operatives somehow got the names of the exit poll sources, perhaps from a mole and went out there and stacked them. Slamming them, as they say.
HUME: How do you do that?
BARONE:: You send in a couple hundred people to 40, 50 locations.
HUME: Not actual voters.
BARONE:: They don’t have to be voters there. Have them come out of the voting place. Oh, I’ll take a card and fill out an exit poll. I’ll sure do this. And you can tote up some numbers for Kerry on that basis.
HUME: And the purpose is to create some sort of a bandwagon effect, and the media.
BARONE:: So that when the Drudge Report (search) comes out at 2:00 or 3:00 and says, you know, Kerry ahead, yes I think that would have been the obvious intended purpose. It could have happened. I don’t know it happened.
HUME: Bill, any thoughts on your part about all of this and how this could have happened?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, just that exit polls are never intended to be horse race polls. I mean they were invented to give you — to give us attitudinal information about voters. Obviously no one needs a poll to tell us what’s going to happen the same day as the vote.
It is just the phenomenon they started releasing the stuff too early. They released the first and second waves at about 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. They probably should have waited.
HUME: And for years it was right.
KRISTOL: Yes. The 1992 campaign, I was Vice President Quayle’s chief of staff, the exit polls showed Bush loosing to Clinton by 8.5 points. We lost by 5.5 points.
HUME: I know, but...
KRISTOL: They’ve been off more often. In 2000, remember they showed...
HUME: Of course, the race wasn’t close enough in the end for that to matter.
KRISTOL: Right. So no one remembers that. But they’ve been off 3 points in the horse race. And I think their real value is — and Michael, I think if you ask their serious pollsters, is the real value is the attitudinal stuff they tell you about voters, not a way of predicting a race.
BARONE:: Predictions of demographic groups, which way they go; that sort of thing.
KRISTOL: Right. Right.
HUME: Let’s go to what in the light of day now, as we look back at what the exit polls told us about attitudes, might tell us about how President Bush won this election.
BARONE:: Well, one of the things that it told us, one of the things the exit poll asks is which issues were more important to you? And then they see how voters picked those issues voting for president. So you had the issue of moral values picked by people. And they favored George W. Bush by 79 percent to 18 percent.
HUME: And as I recall moral values turns up much higher on the list when you asked people what they voted on. So not only did it turn out heavily for Bush, but the issue itself was higher on people’s priority list than we might have imagined. Correct?
BARONE:: Well, yes. Karl Rove (search), President Bush’s chief adviser, has often said that four million Christian conservatives who might have voted stayed home in 2000. He wanted those people to come out this time. The Bush campaign spent a lot of organizational effort. And I think you see them coming up there.
These are moral values and these are people who have also been sickened by the way that liberal media, like the three broadcast networks, has trashed George W. Bush.
HUME: So that’s kind of a sleeper issue, wasn’t it? Bill, what are your thoughts on that?
KRISTOL: It’s a striking number for moral values to be a little bit above terrorism and the economy. That’s 20 percent. I mean but still, it’s a very high number. I just did a BBC interview before coming over here. And BBC TV, they are shocked by this. It’s very revealing actually. "Absolute, it could never happen in Great Britain. Moral values as a voting issue." What kind of religious fanatics are in the U.S.?
BARONE:: They had a civil war over religion in Britain in the 17- century.
KRISTOL: No. It was very interesting but it was revealing. And it really couldn’t happen, I think, in most European countries. And it is distinctively Americans that we are much more of a religious country than the European nations. And that our sense that we want a leader, who somehow speaks to our values, defends our values in a very practical way in terms of defending them against the courts, that was a real sleeper issue, I think.
In some states, the same-sex marriage, constitutional amendments that were on the ballots. I think it was a good issue for Bush. Four to 1 voters interested in moral values instead of the war issue were for Bush.
HUME: What else?
KRISTOL: And you know who came over in some states on moral values? I think Hispanics. Bush did about five or six points better among Hispanics than did he in 2000 nationally. And if you look at New Mexico, I think it may have made the difference from being a Gore state in 2000, to a Bush state in 2004.
HUME: I guess we really have that one — that’s one of the ones still out there, isn’t it?
KRISTOL: Oh, is it? I thought it’s finally had come in. They discovered 50,000 votes somewhere in a trash can some in somewhere in southern New Mexico.
BARONE:: No need anymore.
KRISTOL: But yes. Right. Now it’s out they won’t discover them.
But I think in Ohio, where the same-sex amendment banning same-sex marriage was on the ballot, I noticed that Bush’s votes among African-Americans was higher than elsewhere in the nation.
HUME: Yes. Two points, yes. Two points higher also over what he did four years ago.
KRISTOL: Right. And higher than elsewhere in the nation, so I wonder if the moral issue doesn’t help with minority voters?
HUME: All right. Bill Kristol, Michael, thank you again for your contributions last night. They were wonderful.
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