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CNN sole network to get Puerto Rico polling

Thu May 29, 2008 3:06pm EDT

By Paul J. Gough

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – When Puerto Rico Democrats go to the polls Sunday for their island’s potentially historic primary, CNN will be the only network to have access to exit polling.

The network decided to foot the entire bill, which will run to about $100,000, after its National Election Pool partners initially decided against splitting the costs. CNN declined to discuss the cost.

CNN, along with Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and the Associated Press, comprise the NEP, which coordinates exit polling for distribution on each network and the AP. The companies usually split the costs six ways.

But in April, a meeting of NEP representatives decided not to field an exit-poll team in the June 1 primary in Puerto Rico. (Although there is a primary, Puerto Rico residents don’t have the right to vote in the November election).

Exit polls have been done in most of the state primaries, with the exception of Oregon, which has no physical polling places. But they’re generally not done in territories or the District of Columbia. But CNN senior vp David Bohrman said that once the network learned that NEP wouldn’t do exit polling in Puerto Rico, CNN jumped at the chance.

“That struck me as nuts. We thought that Puerto Rico has more delegates than some of the states we’ve been covering lately and it could be a really key day, even though it’s a Sunday,” Bohrman told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

The primary season’s final days are running out with a calendar chock full of important events. Saturday’s Democratic panel to decide the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegations could, theoretically, put Sen. Barack Obama over the top in delegate count over Sen. Hillary Clinton. Or that could happen June 3 with the Montana or South Dakota primaries. Either way, Bohrman said, Puerto Rico voters opinions should be counted.

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