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Inaccurate & Dishonest "Exit Poll" on Chávez Vote

Penn & Schoen's Inaccurate and Dishonest "Exit Poll" on Chávez Vote

Maneuver by U.S. Political Consultants Violated Venezuelan Law and Professional Ethics Codes
By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
August 19, 2004

CARACAS, VENEZUELA AND SOMEWHERE IN AMÉRICA: The United States-based, British-owned, political consulting firm bearing the names of pollsters Mark Penn, Doug Schoen, and Michael Berland, committed a crime under Venezuelan election law on Sunday: It violated the law against releasing “exit poll” data before polls had closed.

In the firm’s own press release, Penn, Schoen & Berland admitted that they knew they were releasing the supposed “exit poll” information while voting was still underway:

“New York, August 15, 2004, 7:30pm EST – With Venezuela’s voting set to end at 8:00pm EST according to election officials, final exit poll results from Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, an independent New York-based polling firm, show a major victory for the ‘Yes’ movement, defeating Chavez in the Venezuelan presidential recall referendum.”

The careless and malicious approach that Penn, Schoen & Berland displayed with the Venezuela referendum on the continued tenure of President Hugo Chávez can be seen by the hour when the firm put out its press release: Voting in Venezuela had already been extended another two-and-a-half hours, until 10 p.m. (it would later be extended past midnight) so that all the millions of Venezuelan citizens still waiting on line to vote would be able to cast their ballots...

Read the whole report at...

...there, you can read exactly how Penn, Schoen & Berland violated the ethics code of the American Association of Public Opinion Research... and its history, in a previous Latin American election (Mexico 2000) of also violating legal and ethical codes. What we see here is a pattern of unethical behavior by the company also commonly known as Penn & Schoen when it works in Latin America... and the hour has come to blow the whistle.

Penn, Schoen & Berland's claims of a Chávez defeat on Sunday - five hours before polls closed! - are the basis of Venezuela opposition claims of fraud: the Penn & Schoen "exit poll," alone, was inaccurate by a total of 36 percentage points! And the smear attempt against the democratic process also attacks the reputation of the U.S. company, SmartMatic, that worked so hard to make Sunday's election the fairest, most heavily participated, and, in fact, only presidential recall vote in American history! Observers as diverse as Jimmy Carter, Cesar Gaviria and the Organization of American States were on hand and saw a fair and free election. Even Chávez-hater José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch has acknowledged that the result is clean! Penn & Schoen and their clients stand alone in implying otherwise with their bad faith numbers games.

But what we have subsequently discovered is that Penn, Schoen & Berland also failed to make another important disclosure: that it counts among its clients a different company that also makes touch screen voting machines! See the update on the Narcosphere:

Get it? Penn, Schoen & Berland work for one touch screen machine company while peddling dubious "exit poll" data (data, we have since learned from AP, was not collected by company employees, but, rather, by the activist group client's members, another violation of standard polling methodology that the company failed to disclose) that smears another touch screen machine company's good name. How cynical does it get?

It is time to put United States and British polling companies on notice: Stop playing dirty in Latin America! The same professional standards that apply in those countries should apply South of the Border, too. Anything less is an obscene form of colonialism.

Coming soon... Some reflections on the J-School in Bolivia... and new reports still coming in from the scholars and professors in that historic ten days in coca-growing country... Some radio reports have already been posted to our front page:

from somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin

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