Exit polls are surveys conducted as voters leave their polling places on Election Day. Reaching voters at that moment is important because it overcomes the problem pollsters have conducting election polls by telephone: People sometimes misreport whether they voted. The "who won and why did they win" reporting on election night is gleaned mainly from exit poll results.
Voters who agree to participate in the poll fill out a short questionnaire and place it in a ballot box. Interviewers phone in results three times during the day.
When a voter refuses to participate, the interviewer notes the gender and approximate age and race of that voter. In this way, the exit poll can be statistically corrected to make sure all voters are fairly represented in the final results.
• Very worried
• Somewhat worried
• Not too worried
• Not at all worried
After the polls close the exit poll results are weighted using the actual vote count to make the data more accurate. Even projections that are made without any actual vote data are not based solely on the results of exit polls.
In the 2012 election, just over one third of Americans voted before Election Day, using some form of absentee or early voting. Capturing information about these voters is challenging, but it is critical to report accurate information about all voters.
In states with high numbers of absentee/early voters, telephone polls are conducted to reach those voters. Data from these telephone polls are combined with the exit poll data to provide a complete portrait of all voters.
Winners will not be projected until polls are closed, so announcements come on a state-by-state basis as individual state polls close. Information will be constantly updated throughout the evening on ABCNews.com and on all ABC News programs.
For live results on Election Night, visit abcnews.go.com.