National election polls conducted in Danville

November 02, 2004|HERB BROCK

When Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather announce early tonight their networks' projections of which candidates for president and U.S. Senate were the preference of Kentucky voters in today's election, Danville voters might want to play close attention. Two of the city's precincts will have played a role in the calculation.

Scores of voters in the Lexington Road and Danville High School precincts - part of what was a heavy early turnout which featured votes for president, U.S. Senate, a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and several municipal elections - participated in a national poll commissioned by six major news organizations.

The firm conducting the poll, Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International, stationed a representative inside the entrance to the Christian Life Center at First Christian Church on Lexington Road today. Melissa Whattenberger of Lawrenceburg was conducting the exit poll.

"The company is doing exit polling at thousands of precincts around the country, and the two here in Danville are among them," said Whattenberg.


Edison/Mitofsky was hired by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and The Associated Press. The three networks, two cable channels and AP will use the results to make their state-by-state and national projections.

Boyle County Clerk Denise Curtsinger said the polling firm asked her for permission to set up at one Boyle County voting station. Because of the large number and diversity of voters in the Lexington Road and Danville precincts, the First Christian Church was selected.

"There may be other exit polling going on, but it's being done outside the buildings," said Curtsinger. "They (Edison/Mitofksy) are the only ones registered with my office to be doing their polling on the premises."

The Edison/Mitofsky exit poll form, which had the logos of the six national news organization at the top under the heading, "National Election Poll," contains 20 multiple choice questions with boxes for checkmarks to the left of each choice. The form asks respondents to give only one response and assures them that their answers are confidential.

Several of the questions deal with the background of respondents, including their sex, age , race and income.

Three questions about religion

The poll form asks three questions about religion, including the respondents'' organized faith, whether they are "born again" or evangelical Christian, and how often they attend services.

The form then asks questions about candidates and issues. It asks if the respondents voted for George W. Bush, John Kerry, Ralph Nader, a write-in or no one for president and Jim Bunning, Daniel Mangiardo, other or no one for U.S. Senate.

Respondents also are asked if they strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush's handling of his job as president; which one issue "mattered the most" in deciding who they are voting for; and which candidate quality mattered most ("caring about people like me," "strong religious faith," "honest and trustworthy," "strong leader," "intelligent," "will bring about needed change," and "has clear stands on the issues.")

The form also asks whether the respondents voted "yes," "no" or did not vote on Amendment 1, which defines marriage only as a union between a man and a woman.

As of 8:30 a.m. today, between 175 and 200 voters had filled out the form at the small card table that served as Whattenberg's station. "The way they're streaming in here, we should get quite a few responses by the time the day is over," she said.

"Busy, busy," said Curtsinger, feeling comfortable with her prediction that at least 70 percent of Boyle's 18,835 registered voters would cast ballots today. "We've a few very minor problems, but nothing major."

Lines formed before 6 a.m.

Election officers at a half dozen Danville voting stations reported that lines started forming well before the polls officially opened at 6 a.m.

"The line here started about 5:15 a.m., and there were 25 or more people in it as it stretched out the door," said election officer Bob Allen at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church. "And we've been voting about one a minute."

As of 8:15 a.m., some 119 of the 890 voters registered at the church had voted. Similar early heavy turnout figures were reported elsewhere about the same time: 131 of 813 registered voters at the Lexington Road precinct; 126 of 733 at Millennium Park; and 158 of 914 in the Boyle County High School precinct, which is voting at the park.

Based on interviews with two dozen early voters, the main issue driving a lot of voters to the polls today to cast ballots in the presidential race is the war in Iraq.

"It's a combination of things, what's deciding who I'm voting for, but the war has a lot to do with it," said Terry Wells, after voting at Indian Hills Christian Church. "All the killings and beheadings are adding up."

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