We Can Project Nothing
It was the best voting experience of my entire life. I know I complained all
about this latest election, but I take it all back. 1998 was a great election
year. At last, I fulfilled one of my dreams in life. Yes, I was able to
participate in an exit poll and lie about the way I voted.
I know. It's a humble dream, but you can't understand how proud I was
to watch all the networks make their projections while knowing that I had
lied in their exit poll. I'm not sure why I hate exit polls so much, but it just
gets a bit annoying to turn on the television and be told why I voted the
way I voted. There's so much arrogance in these polls. Not only do exit
polls make the electorate at large feel worthless, but also the way the
media holds the information over our heads can be infuriating. Turn on
the early evening news the night of an election, and all the anchors
already know what most of the results will be. They're just smiling
smugly at us and not telling.
I almost wish they would tell us as soon as they know. The argument
against this is, of course, that no one will bother voting if they know who
is going to win, but who knows? Perhaps the opportunity to make Peter
Jennings look like a blithering idiot might just motivate the electorate
more than the current system does. I know when I lived in California in
1996 I made sure not to vote until the networks had used all the east
coast exit polls to project Clinton as the winner. It just seemed more fun
And so this is why last Tuesday was so great for me. I admit I almost felt
slightly guilty about lying, but that's only because there was a really
earnest college student who was handing out the exit poll. You could tell
that she really thought she was doing something special.
"Oh, you're doing an exit poll. Can I be in it?" I asked her, trying my best
not to say "pretty please."
"Actually, I'm sorry." She said disappointedly. "I just handed out both
my questionnaire pads. I don't have any more right now."
"Um. . . I could wait."
"Really, it'll be about five minutes."
"That's okay. I don't mind waiting."
"Thanks. That's really great of you."
I just stood there with my best "aw, shucks" expression as she smiled at
me. She was clearly impressed. If I had played it right, I might have even
been able to get a date out of it. Little did she know that I was waiting
there only to mess up her sample.
When I finally did look at the poll, it was much more difficult to fill out
than I had expected. Sure, it was easy to lie about which candidates I had
chosen, but there were also many opinion questions on which I didn't
really have an opinion. Mostly, I just alternated my answers. For
instance, I said that the President's affair with Monica Lewinsky was the
single most important factor for me in this election, but then a few
questions later I was very much against the Republicans who were trying
to impeach the President. Later, I said that I expected the economy to rise
dramatically in the future, but on the very next question I answered that I
was deeply scared about the future.
"Cokie, our research seems to indicate that voters expect an economic
boom but are also terrified of it. What do you make of that?"
"Er, I don't have a God Damn clue, Peter."
Finally, near the end of the questionnaire, I was asked about my sexual
orientation for some reason. Here, I decided to lie and say that I was gay.
This was my final stroke of brilliance. You see, according to my exit poll, I
happen to be a gay Republican who wants Dan Quayle to be the next
President of the United States. Seriously, it doesn't get any better than
See, the next election can be just as exciting for you too. Please help me
make a difference. In 2000, be sure to go out and vote and then lie about
it in an exit poll. Hey, whoever said elections can't be fun?
Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin