On November 8 and 9, FOX News Channel host and radio host Bill O'Reilly and congressional investigator Herbert Romerstein both inaccurately cited exit poll data from the November 2 presidential election, asserting that 70 percent of voters who cast ballots for Senator John Kerry did so to oppose President George W. Bush, rather than to support Kerry.
In fact, roughly 36 percent -- not 70 percent -- of those who voted for Kerry did so mostly out of opposition to Bush, rather than support for Kerry.
According to CNN's exit poll reporting, the data actually indicates that 25 percent of all voters cast their ballot "mostly" against their candidate's opponent, rather than "mostly" for their candidate. Of that 25 percent, 70 percent voted for Kerry. That means 17.5 percent of the electorate voted for Kerry as a vote "mostly" against Bush. Since 48 percent of the electorate voted for Kerry, that 17.5 percent represents 36 percent of Kerry voters.
On November 8, O'Reilly inaccurately cited the 70 percent figure three times:
- O'REILLY: Now, let's start with the facts. It's always best to start with facts. Because emotion doesn't get you anywhere in any argument at all. According to the exit polling data, people voting for John Kerry broke down this way: Forty percent of the people voted for him because they liked him. Seventy percent of the people voting for him voted that way because they didn't like Bush. All right? So, there was some -- obviously, that adds up to 110 percent, there's some crossover. There was some both. But the gap between people liking Kerry and his policies and not liking Bush is 70 [percent] to 40 [percent]. Most people voted for Kerry 'cause they didn't like Bush. Period. Not because of Kerry. Now -- and that's the key. [The Radio Factor, 11/8/04]
- The truth is that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the far left and really can't persuade anyone any more. Exit polls say 70 percent of those voting for John Kerry did so because they don't like Bush. Do the math. Kerry persuaded very few Americans to his side. [FOX News Channel, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/8/04]
- O'REILLY: Yes, but what was the big motivator [to vote for John Kerry], though, as we just cited? 70 percent?
ROBERT B. REICH (former Labor secretary): Kerry.
O'REILLY: No, 70 percent in exit polls, 70 percent, professor, say they voted against Bush rather than for Kerry. That's the point. [FOX News Channel, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/8/04]
In a November 9 "Commentary" column for The Washington Times, headlined "When hate ...," Romerstein wrote:
The majority of the American people voted against the "Politics of Hate" and repudiated [author and documentarian] Michael Moore and his clones. On the other hand, CNN said 70 percent of the Kerry voters were voting not for him but against President Bush.
Herbert Romerstein is an author, researcher, and faculty member at the Institute of World Politics. According to his bio posted on the website of conservative Regnery Publishing, Inc. (which published the book Romerstein co-authored, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors), "Romerstein was head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation at the United States Information Agency from 1983 to 1989. He had previously served as a professional staff member for several congressional committees, including the House Intelligence Committee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities." Since 1996, Romerstein's columns have appeared in The Washington Times once or twice annually.
- 2004 Elections