The Prowler’s American Spectator column claims that the Kerry campaign was behind the early exit poll numbers on Tuesday.
Here’s what the Spectator says happened:
A little after one o’clock, early polling numbers, purportedly from the pool exit polling consortium, began to pop up on the Internet and in e-mails in Washington and around the country.
The early polling numbers are some of the most eagerly anticipated, if highly inaccurate, data on election day, and are widely distributed. Perhaps that was what the Kerry campaign was banking on.
According to at least three sources, one inside the Kerry campaign, and two outside of it, but with ties to senior Kerry advisers, some of the “early polling numbers” were in fact direct reports from Kerry campaign or Democratic Party operatives on the ground in such critical states as Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to a Washington lobbyist with knowledge of the numbers, the numbers were packaged together so as to appear to be exit poll results. They were then scrubbed through several sources to land in the lap of sympathetic bloggers who these operatives believed would put the numbers up with little question.
Some of the numbers claimed to be exit polling data that showed Kerry with a 8-1 voter ratio. As soon as the numbers hit the Internet, panic set in.
“It was awful,” says a Republican House staffer. “You just felt sick when you saw the numbers.” The best explanation that I’ve been able to come up with is that the Kerry campaign new they were in trouble in some key states and hoped that news of a big dose of momentum early in the day would translate into real momentum.
So did the Kerry campaign manipulate bloggers to try to give the impression that they were winning in a landslide? It seems very plausible. In fact I’ve heard similar tales from anonymous sources at other news organizations, though none of them are reporting it – yet.