Methodology for 'Journey to power: The history of black voters, 1976 to 2020'

The data covers, to the best of our knowledge, every Democratic presidential primary exit poll conducted by national media organizations since 1976.
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Mike McQuade for NBC News / AP and Getty Images

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By Steve Kornacki

The data presented here covers, to the best of the author’s knowledge, every Democratic presidential primary exit poll conducted by national media organizations since the 1976 campaign. While many of the exit poll findings were published contemporaneously by media outlets during the primary season, there is no single source for easily viewing and understanding the historical exit polls. This report is the first to interpret and comprehensively catalog, from a variety of public and nonpublic sources, the black vote in Democratic primary states.

It’s important to note that not every state held a competitive primary in each campaign, and that even in states that did, exit polls were not always conducted. In addition, exit polling data specifically on black voters is available only in states with significant African American populations.

This project was made possible through the generosity of William Mayer, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston and an expert on presidential campaigns. Mayer previously had compiled a number of state primary exit polls for analysis on broader trends and shared the data with us.

Exit polls have been conducted by several organizations over the years, with various media sponsorships. Exit polls from 2004, 2008 and 2016 were conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News.

Exit polls in 2000 were conducted by the Voter News Service, a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, Fox News and The Associated Press.

Exit polls in 1992 were conducted by Warren Mitofsky and Murray Edelman for Voter Research and Surveys, a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News.

Prior to 1992, exit polls were conducted by several national media organizations, often working independently of one another.

The polls cited for this project include some that were sponsored by CBS News and The New York Times and compiled by Mayer as part of his research. Permanent archives of past exit polls are maintained by Cornell University’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. (Some of the data at Roper and the consortium can be viewed only after receiving permission from those organizations, while other data is in the form of raw files that require statistical software and analysis to interpret.) Some exit polls cited in this project also were sponsored by ABC News, which made the data available in “The ’88 Vote,” published in 1989, and “The ’84 Vote,” published in 1985.

Additional Table Footnotes

2016:

• All exit polls from National Election Pool.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Iowa (3 percent), Massachusetts (4 percent), New Hampshire (2 percent), Vermont (1 percent), West Virginia (3 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

2008:

• All exit polls from National Election Pool.

• Florida and Michigan omitted as disputed primaries.

• States with sample sizes of black voters that were too small to extrapolate: Iowa (4 percent), Montana (1 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), New Mexico (3 percent), Oklahoma (6 percent), Oregon (3 percent), Rhode Island (7 percent), South Dakota (1 percent), Utah (2 percent), Vermont (1 percent), West Virginia (3 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, Washington, Wyoming.

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2004:

• All exit polls from National Election Pool.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Arizona (2 percent), Iowa, Massachusetts (5 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), Rhode Island (4 percent), Vermont (1 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

2000:

• All exit polls from Voter News Service.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Colorado (11 percent), Iowa, Maine (1 percent), New Hampshire, Rhode Island (3 percent), Vermont (1 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

1992:

• All exit polls from Voter Research and Surveys.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Idaho, Kansas (3 percent), Massachusetts (3 percent), Minnesota (5 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), North Dakota, Ohio (7 percent), Oklahoma (2 percent), Oregon (4 percent), Rhode Island (2 percent), South Dakota (1 percent), Washington, Wisconsin (3 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

• Unable to source data for: Alabama, California, Indiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio.

1988:

• CBS News/New York Times Exit Polls: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.

• ABC News Exit Polls: California, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Iowa, Massachusetts (4 percent), Nebraska (5 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), New Mexico (4 percent), South Dakota (1 percent), Vermont (1 percent), West Virginia (4 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

1984:

• Exit polls from CBS News/New York Times Exit Polls and ABC News.

• States with sample sizes too small: Iowa, Massachusetts (2 percent), Nebraska (4 percent), New Hampshire (2 percent), Oregon (4 percent), Rhode Island (2 percent), Vermont.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

1980:

• Exit polls from CBS News/New York Times Exit Polls and ABC News.

• States with sample sizes too small: New Hampshire (4 percent), Oregon (2 percent), Wisconsin (1 percent).

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

1976:

• All polls from CBS News/New York Times.

• Delegate Selection Primary in New York state. No total vote result was kept.

• States with sample sizes of black voters too small to extrapolate: Massachusetts (2 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), Oregon (1 percent), Wisconsin (2 percent).

• States with no exit polls: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.