Erroneous Exit Poll Didn't Factor in Voter Age

Israel Radio and the Army Radio published polls on Wednesday night indicating contradictory election results for Labor's primary - and in the final turnout, the former was vindicated.

Army Radio's poll, conducted by the Hanoch Smith Institute (HSI), predicted a significant victory of 52 percent for Vice Premier Shimon Peres and 38 percent for Amir Peretz.

The Israel Radio poll, conducted by the Maagar Mohot Survey Institute, predicted a close race between the two candidates, giving Peretz has a small lead - 46 percent to Peres' 41 percent.

The two stations merged their broadcasts for a short time to enable the pollsters to explain the contradiction between their results, but nobody could tell which of the two was right.

By morning it transpired that Maagar Mohot's poll had been correct. Rafi Smith of the Smith Institute explained yesterday that the mistake derived from "human error." He said the age factor is very significant in Labor. Voters up to 40 years old prefer Amir Peretz, while the older voters supported Shimon Peres.

"Apparently I didn't calculate this factor correctly and it created a significant gap between our results and the real results," Smith said. He said the geographic factor was also not accurate enough to reflect Peretz's major victory in the peripheral communities.

Smith said he did not expect this case to affect the public's confidence in polls as the model was not wrong. "The other poll used a similar model and it worked. In most of my polls I gave very good estimates of what was about to happen," he said.