International Republican Institute Endorses Accuracy of Exit Polls

Congratulations Presidents Kerry and Gore, the State Department‘s-backed [see Redshift’s comment here; title changed accordingly] International Republican Institute has just belatedly declared you both President.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the IRI has not released its exit poll from the Kenyan election precisely because doing so would suggest exit polls are an accurate measure of election fraud–and all that might imply for recent US electoral politics.

An exit poll carried out on behalf of a U.S. government-backed foundation indicated that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki suffered a resounding defeat in last month’s disputed election, according to officials with knowledge of the document.

The poll by the Washington-based International Republican Institute — not yet publicly released — further undermines Kibaki’s claims of a narrow re-election victory. The outcome has sparked protests and ethnically driven clashes nationwide, killing hundreds.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga led Kibaki by roughly 8 percentage points in the poll, which surveyed voters as they left polling places during the election Dec. 27, according to one senior Western official who’s seen the data, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. That’s a sharp departure from the results that Kenyan election officials certified, which gave Kibaki a winning margin of 231,728 votes over Odinga, about 3 percentage points.


It wasn’t clear why the International Republican Institute — which has conducted opinion polls and observed elections in Kenya since 1992 — isn’t releasing its data. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kenya confirmed that a poll was conducted but referred questions to the institute, where officials couldn’t be reached for comment.


The senior Western official, who reviewed partial results of the poll, described them as credible. The survey included a sufficient sample of voters from around the country, and Odinga’s lead was comfortably outside the margin of error, the official said.

"What it tells me is there was an exit poll that had one candidate with a significant lead who, at the end of the day, was not declared the victor. That seems to me to be a little surprising," the official said.

It kind of makes you wonder how many more "credible" exit polls US government agencies are sitting on.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

38 replies
  1. looseheadprop says:

    Conflict between election results and exit polls is the canary in the coal mine of elections. They signal a need for a recount.

    Don’t tell Kicinich, he is already geting a recount in NH

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, exactly, and it is certainly not like we can blame the Kenyan situation on the freaking “Bradley effect” or anything either….

  2. Redshift says:

    Just to be clear, the International Republican Institute is US-funded (National Endowment for Democracy), but it’s not a government agency or part of the State Department. It’s technically nonpartisan, but it was founded during the Reagan Administration and most of its board and staff are former GOP officials. They are also accused of introducing GOP-style political tactics into the Mexican presidential election to help the pro-Republican, pro-big business party retain power.

    No idea how that colors its position on Kenya, but I’d be willing to bet that figuring out how it fits with GOP partisan interests has more than a little to do with whether and when the exit poll report gets released.

  3. emptywheel says:

    Thanks Redshift, changed accordingly.

    And yes, I was thinking of Mexico when I wrote this, particularly when I asked about exit polls they’ve spiked.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Which deadline is this? My head spins. None of them respect any deadlines. Simple middle finger treatment across the board.

      From Barbara Boxer:

      It’s time for the Bush EPA to come clean with the American

      Last Thursday, I chaired a Senate Environment and Public Works
      Committee field briefing in Los Angeles to investigate why the
      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected California’s plan
      to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
      California Attorney General Jerry Brown, California Air
      Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope,
      the NRDC’s Fran Pavley, and Congresswoman Hilda Solis all
      appeared as witnesses. Unfortunately, one chair at the briefing
      was noticeably empty: the seat we reserved for EPA Administrator
      Stephen Johnson.

      Clearly, EPA Administrator Johnson does not want California and
      18 other states to implement California’s higher emission
      standard for automobiles — a key part of our fight against
      global warming — but the public deserves to know why. We can’t
      let Administrator Johnson hide the truth from the American

      • ralphbon says:

        It’s the deadline for the White House to come clean about whether millions of missing emails are stored on backup tapes. Lookee here.

        Regarding the EPA outrage, the biggest revelation for me is that sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, Jerry Brown became Attorney General of California. I mean, like, when did that happen? I was still trying to wrap my head around his being mayor of Oakland.

        I’m so out of touch. Time to Google Linda Ronstadt.

        • bmaz says:

          Reasonably successful stint in Oakland (Hey, if it doesn’t burn down your term has been successful). Elected AG fairly easily in 2006. Linda is long gone from his scene. Fairly serious talk of him running for Governor again when Ahnold is done.

  4. Loo Hoo. says:

    Another missed deadline: (TP)

    Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to meet the House Oversight Committee’s deadline for producing documents, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today requesting “that the agency agree to production deadlines and provide relevant EPA officials for interviews.” In the letter, Waxman named “seven high-level managers he wants to interview.” The EPA claims “it is still working to collect the documents.”

    Perhaps it should be news when deadlines are met.

  5. Loo Hoo. says:

    Brown got in last election along with my fav, Debra Bowen. Sadly, my very own San Diego tax money is going to sue Bowen on paper and pen ballots. We got our local election gal from….Ohio!!!


    Citizens’ Alert
    Court Hearing January 17, 2008 @ 9 AM
    San Diego County v. Secretary of State Bowen

    Election systems vendor Diebold says it won’t honor its contract. So who does the board sue? the Secretary of State?! Come hear what the Court says about THIS frivolous lawsuit that wastes taxpayers’ dollars defending Diebold’s interests!

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t get it, why not sue Diebold? Is Bowen’s office refusing to take appropriate action and the plaintiffs are trying to force them to do so or something? What is the deal here??

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    Bowen is suing Diebold, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is suing Bowen to let Diebold continue using the machines. Bowen has shut them down.

    Our friends at Psephos have sent us a Citizens’ Alert
    which Secure Accurate Elections is passing on to you.

    Citizens’ Alert
    Court Hearing January 17, 2008 @ 9 AM
    San Diego County v. Secretary of State Bowen

    Election systems vendor Diebold says it won’t honor its contract. So who does the board sue? the Secretary of State?! Come hear what the Court says about THIS frivolous lawsuit that wastes taxpayers’ dollars defending Diebold’s interests!
    San Diego County Superior Court
    330 West Broadway, Department 67
    Thursday, 9 AM, January 17, 2008

    Last week San Diego citizens rallied at the Board of Supervisors meeting to protest a costly lawsuit filed by the County against Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Now it’s critical that citizens show up in Court to support transparent, verifiable elections. Instead of wasting money serving Diebold’s interests the County should serve the People’s interest and work to restore confidence that our votes will be counted as cast.

    San Diego County Superior Court (Case No.: 84017)
    330 W. Broadway — Dept . 67
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 515-8707

  7. Loo Hoo. says:

    This from the Sacramento Bee:

    Challenging the state’s top election official, San Diego County is suing Secretary of State Debra Bowen for allegedly exceeding her authority in cracking down on electronic voting machines.

    The suit, filed Tuesday, takes aim at one of many conditions imposed by Bowen after a state-funded study revealed security faults in three voting systems studied.

    • bmaz says:

      Thanks. Now I understand. What is the root motivation of the BoSupervisors? Are they Rove Goopers? Diebold relatives? Stand to be out a lot of money due to machine switchouts (should that not be a state not county concern?)?

  8. Loo Hoo. says:

    It is a state concern, and Bowen has a $12 million lawsuit against Diebold for faulty equipment.

    The Board of Supervisors listens to Issa, Hunter, and Bilbray. It’s a cozy group.

    See the suit via Bradblog.

  9. JodiDog says:

    Exit polls are dependable to maybe 5 percent.

    Typical Republicans/Independents are less likely than Democrats/Progressives/Liberals to stop and deal with pollsters, so the polls usually are biased.

    DemFromCT has spoken about this.

    Take myself for example. DAMN the pollster trying to stop me, or call me and hijack my precious time.

    By the way, where is DemFromCT these days?

  10. prostratedragon says:

    OT: Whose waters were they in again?

    According to Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgiff, the US ships were “five kilometers outside Iranian territorial waters”. Yet, this is disputed by another dispatch from the US ships that states, “I am engaged in transit passage in accordance with international law.”

    Given that the approximately three-kilometer-wide inbound traffic lane in the Strait of Hormuz is within Iran’s territorial water, the US Navy’s invocation of “transit passage” harking back to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, (UNCLOS) is hardly surprising. [1]

    Although the US has yet to ratify the UNCLOS, it has been a strong advocate of its provisions regarding navigational rights, thus explaining the US officers’ availing themselves of “international law”. [2]

    It is noteworthy that in May 2006, Bush urged the US Congress to “act favorably on US accession to the convention”. But, in light of the legal ramifications of the US-Iran standoff in the Persian Gulf, discussed below, opponents of the UNCLOS may have become emboldened. According to them, the convention “prohibits two functions vital to American security: collecting intelligence and submerged transit of territorial waters”.

    However, irrespective of how Congress acts on the pending legislation on UNCLOS, the fact is that the US cannot have its cake and eat it. That is, rely on it to defend its navigational rights in the Strait of Hormuz and, simultaneously, disregard the various limitations on those rights imposed by the UNCLOS —and favoring Iran. These include the following: …

  11. Mary says:

    On topic – I wish the Kenyan situation was getting more US press in general. It is a very volatile situation and while I realize it doesn’t come complete with 4 inch stilettos, fake lashes and it’s own Tango, it deserves more.

    Off topic – for no super good reason, other than the heading references, I’m going to link to this from Thememoryhole…..ations.htm
    with a list of CIA IG investigations, from 1997 through 2004, that were provided in their redacted form in connection with a FOIA request.

    From the end, there are these:

    Unclassified Network Intrusion (2/27/2001)
    Omission of Facts From Official [redacted] Reports (4/25/2001)
    Possible Propaganda Using Agency Employees [sic] Names (6/27/2001)
    Alleged Concealment of Terrorist Related Information (9/25/2002)
    Allegation of CIA Involvement [redacted] (2/4/2003)
    … Claim of Anti-Military Sentiment at CIA (2/6/2003)
    Possible Compromise of a CIA Program (5/13/2003)
    Alleged Failure to Timely Exploit Terrorist-Related Information (5/16/2003)
    Alleged [redacted] Pedophile (5/20/2003)
    Weapons Shipment Incident (9/30/2003)
    Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques (4/12/2004)
    Potential Unlawful Raid on Premises [redacted] (6/14/2004)
    Deadly Force Incident in Iraq (7/1/2004)
    Allegation of Abuse by Iraqi Female Detainee (7/8/2004)
    Allegations of Questionable Intelligence Activity (9/3/2004)

    Well, there’s a list. I love the fact that “claims” of “anti-military sentiment” at CIA got their very own IG investigation. Now, not so much a guy frozen to death as an “enhanced interrogation” procedure, but if anyone questions bombing babies and ginnnig up a war – apparently that could generate some real trouble.


  12. Beel says:

    & what are we to make of the discrepancies in polling (including exit polls) in the Democratic New Hamshire primary just past?

  13. bmaz says:

    EW – What the clusterfuck? Top of the morning to you! Vote early! Vote often! Vote teh Republican! Okay, that is the first time in my life I ever uttered that last phrase, and undoubtedly the last….

    • klynn says:

      In the last gubernatorial primary election in Ohio I switched to vote for the “other” Repug in order to make sure Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State, did not get the Repug nomination. Blackwell’s hand on the last Presidential election was enough for me.

      The precinct captain told me I was not alone, many Dems switched that day.

      But I felt sick to my stomach after doing it. Interestingly, I received all kinds of Repug calls and mailings. The “hate” language and “fear” language were the base of each PR piece, no issues of substance whatsoever. One item was almost an exact copy of a speech Hitler gave regarding the fear of Jews (just substitute terrorists). My former college advisor wanted me to use the materials to write a book.

  14. BayStateLibrul says:

    Don’t you find it odd that MSNBC is going to court preventing Dennis K
    from the debacle (debate)?

        • klynn says:

          You might enjoy Christy’s post with guest Nan Aron.


          It compliment’s Glenn’s post nicely. The buzz words “judicial activism” are actually better applied to conservative judges who lie in their approval hearings about their respect for the law and then make decisions just days into their job which overturn, in some cases, hundreds of years of law, instantly.

          Watch the documentary when you have time. Wonderfully done.

  15. jackie says:

    Completely OT, but I really want to read that ‘3.5 hrs of Sibel’s testimony about 9/11′. It would probably contain enough ‘names’ and links to ‘names’ to bring down the whole house of cards/BushCo down.
    From the question’s bit at a NY 9/11 site. (sry, forgot its name :()
    ‘The omission of the 3.5 hours of testimony to the Commission by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds—-testimony that, according to her later public letter to Chairman Kean, revealed serious 9/11-related cover-ups by officials at FBI headquarters.’

    • bmaz says:

      I still don’t understand why anyone believes that a low line level interpreter, who worked in government well less that a year, holds the key to the holy grail of 9/11 and everything else. I am still waiting for that explanation….

  16. jackie says:

    I don’t believe she is a low level interpreter and, even if she were, she apparently heard ‘enough’ that this government/white house has done everything it can to stop her and her testimony from being public.
    If there is nothing there, why are they so obsessed with keeping her silent?

  17. bmaz says:

    A common line level interpreter, and not for very long either, is exactly what she was. Secondly, just because the Administration doesn’t want these areas inquired into (and they really don’t, in the worst way) doesn’t necessarily mean she holds all the keys. There is no question but that it is possible she has some damning information on part of all the mess we have, and nobody would be happier than me to see these chumps brought down; however, I have personally always found the projection of holy grail status onto Edmunds as a bit hysterical. On the plus side for you, however, is that I am often full of baloney and wrong…

    • jackie says:

      Oh, I’m not sure she’s the holy grail either, but I do think somewhere in her testimony is a/the/several important connection(s) ‘they’ don’t want made and that what makes her statement/testimony important…:)

  18. JohnJ says:

    On topic:
    The wingnuts are using their circular logic again. Since they skewed the actual vote count in 2000 they are using that to “prove” that exit polls aren’t accurate. (A familiar theme?)

    I apologize for not researching this myself (I have more pressing tasks right now), but I read that, before the stolen 2000 election, the international poll watchers said that exit polls were considered to be within somewhere within < 1% error and have always been used to prove bogus or support election results. At something like 5%, out and out fraud is indicated. (Which explains the 10 to 15% difference in the important Florida counties in 2000 and since). Also, didn’t the Repugs try to outlaw exit polls claiming they might affect people’s voting? That would indicate to me that the GOP election machine find them a threat.</p>

  19. JodiDog says:

    The missing emails and notes for Valerie Plame!
    The missing emails for the AGs!
    The missing torture tapes!

    Now the missing Holy Grail “Sibel Edmonds!”

    Surely there is some rock that can be overturned to send all these Republicans to Hell!

    And it should have been against the law for Dick Cheney to not use email! (Even though it would have never been found.)
    And when will States’ evidence be brought against him? Will no one squeal?

    I find a certain wistful tone in all this.

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