With just a little over a week to go NBC's Today show is cranking up the anti-Bush sentiment and this morning Meredith Vieira and Chris Matthews hammered how Republicans are running away from the President. After NBC's Kelly O'Donnell aired a full report on how Bush is showing up in ads everywhere for Democrats but not for Republicans, Vieira asked MSNBC's Hardball host Matthews to break down the midterms which just allowed Matthews to go on his typical anti-Iraq war tear:
Meredith Vieira: "I know you heard Kelly O'Donnell's report, the President now being featured in more than 160 ads for Democratic candidates. Do you think the strategy is gonna work?"
In his syndicated column, political demographer Michael Barone looks at some of the pratfalls of polling. He also makes some important points about how most media polls are overcounting Democrats:
In 2004, the electorate that went to the polls or voted absentee was,
according to the adjusted NEP exit poll, 37 percent Democratic and 37
percent Republican. In party identification, it was the most Republican
electorate since George Gallup conducted his first random sample poll
in October 1935.
But most recent national polls show Democrats with an advantage in
party identification in the vicinity of 5 percent to 12 percent. Party
identification usually changes slowly. Historically, voters have
switched from candidates of one party to candidates of the other more
readily than they have changed their party identification.
I was a little stunned to hear one of leftist radio host Stephanie Miller's crew today hype that a new Newsweek poll shows 51 percent of Americans now favor impeaching George W. Bush. What? Perhaps they "learned" from the Daily Kos, which today tried this game of statistical wizardry: if 28 percent say impeaching Bush is a "top priority," 23 percent say it should be a lower priority, a stunning majority now "supports" impeachment. But the poll did not ask impeachment, yea or nay. Would an actual up-front question draw a lower number, since 23 percent chose an option that suggests "not so hot on that idea"?
It seems the closer we get to Election Day, the more polls we’re going to be subjected to that over-sample Democrats. The latest entrant comes from Newsweek (hat tip to Stop The ACLU). In this one, 24 percent more Democrats were surveyed than Republicans.
Frankly, I have no interest in sharing any of the results from this survey, for if a polling agency can’t create a sample that accurately reflects the electorate, why should anybody care about the data it produces?
Maybe more importantly, why would a news organization pay for such results? After all, there are now 300 million people in America. It shouldn’t be hard to find equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to answer questions, especially when the total sample is only 1,000.
If you've ever wondered who it is that seems to be getting polled, or how come questions always seem to understate support for Republicans and conservatives, read this posting from Freeper "MHT" which tells of his encounter with a pollster:
Twenty-five years after registering to vote, I finally got polled by
a national news group. And, as usual, Rush was right. However, there
are a few things which I want to share.
1. The interviewer
really wanted to talk to me. I was on another call and told them to
call me back in 10 minutes. They did, indicating to me that they are
having difficulty reaching people who wish to talk to them.
The questions were phrased in a very subtle way that focused on an
anti-Bush agenda. For example, "Do you think that Bush is responsible
for the situation in Iraq?" That's a yes/no question. They could have
made it multiple choice. At best, Bush gets a 50% chance of being
blamed for Iraq instead of insurgents, radical Islam, outside funding,
These days, it is almost as telling what little gems media organizations choose to hide from the public about their own polls as what they share. The release of the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is a fine example. As NewsBusters reported, the good folks at the “Today” show on Thursday seemed quite giddy over numbers that suggest the Republicans are in a lot of trouble in the upcoming midterm elections. However, as is typical, what wasn’t shared from this study conceivably gives a different picture.
For example, as is typical these days, news organizations don’t like to share the political affiliations of those questioned. Certainly, you can’t blame them, for this might give the public some pause to trust the veracity of the data. This instance was no exception, for those that were either “strong Democrat,” “Not very strong Democrat,” or “Independent/lean Democrat” totaled 43 percent of the respondents. The tally for “Strong Republican,” “Not very strong Republican,” and “Independent/lean Republican” was only 37 percent. As such, 16 percent more Democrats or those who leaned Democrat were polled versus Republicans and those who leaned Republican. Color me not surprised.
What a difference a day makes! Just yesterday, as I reported here, pollster John Zogby was boasting of his affiliation with Nova M, the new liberal radio network, heir to the moribund Air America. The headline of the mass email he sent out proclaimed: "Air America Co-Founders Start New Liberal Talk Network: Mike Malloy, Joe Trippi and John Zogby join Nova M Radio."
As he breathlessly announced the "formation of [the] new progressive talk radio network" by a couple of Air America's original founders, Zogby touted his own connection, letting us know that he will be co-hosting a weekly one hour show, “The Pulse of the Nation.” The idea will be for Zogby to "poll particular hot button issues from politics and pop culture to the War in Iraq and stem cell research. Each program will include expert guests and audience participation. At the end of each show John will reveal the secret results of the poll and each listener will then know whether or not they have their finger on 'The Pulse of the Nation!'"
It is Wednesday, which means it was time for another installment of "Capitol Bob," Bob Schieffer; on CBS’ "Early Show." Today’s segment dealt with the midterm elections and Schieffer’s predictions. Schieffer still believes the Democrats will win control of the House, but cautioned Democrats not to get too over confident, as there are three weeks to go and the Republicans have a tremendous fund-raising edge. And in fact, the cash advantage was the only positive sign Schieffer could see for Republicans. Co-host Rene Syler, however, highlighted that with the Mark Foley coverage subsiding, experts were a little more skeptical of the Democrats chances. Syler introduced the segment:
"For weeks now, negative news from Washington left the Republican party sagging. But, now that it's gotten quieter, the GOP is ready to fight for control of the next Congress. And of course, for the inside scoop from Washington we turn to 'Capitol Bob,' CBS News Chief Washington correspondent and host of 'Face the Nation,' Bob Schieffer. Bob, good morning."
David Broder and Dan Balz wrote a rather lengthy, front-page story for the Washington Post this morning with the cautionary headline “Poll Shows Strong Shift Of Support to Democrats.” However, Broder and Balz chose not to share some key information from this poll with their readers, the most important of which being the political breakdown of those questioned. In fact, the meager percentage of Republican respondents to this survey should have led the Post to headline this article "Poll Shows Strong Shift Of Questions to Democrats!"
The article began: “Democrats have regained a commanding position going into the final weeks of the midterm-election campaigns, with support eroding for Republicans on Iraq, ethics and presidential leadership, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.”
Yet, nowhere did the authors let their readers know that 41 percent more Democrats were questioned for this survey than Republicans. That’s right. The breakdown was:
In the midst of a period when the news media have been aggressively delivering bad news for Republicans and conservatives, NBC News decided to take a poll which found the news agenda has had an impact. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams indirectly acknowledged the media's role, asking Tim Russert: “On the big issue of Iraq, since we last polled on it, we had that Defense intelligence report come out and now this Woodward book. It's all over the media. What are the findings in the numbers?" (Indeed, Williams was so enthused about Woodward's book that he led his newscast last Thursday by plugging CBS's interview with Woodward a day before the CBS Evening News got to it.) Russert relayed how the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found that when asked “what effect is the war in Iraq having on war on terror?”, only 32 percent said “helping” while 46 percent replied “hurting.” Russert emphasized: “Measure that to one month ago and look at the change: A 14 percent increase in the number of people -- from 32 to 46 -- who believe the Iraq war is hurting the war on terror.” On job approval, Bush's is down to 39 percent in the poll.
The latest CBS/New York Times poll is reported out in Thursday's lead story by reporters Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder: "Only 25% In Poll Voice Approval of the Congress -- An Echo of 1994 Findings -- Links to Special Interests Are Cited -- Standing of Bush Also Lags."
Nagourney and his headline writer see parallels to the 1994 Republican sweep of Congress -- an event, incidentally, that the Times never saw coming, and certainly didn't anticipate as eagerly as it now does a Democratic reclamation.
Sometimes when I'm talking about the media with someone who's smart but
not particularly that political, they'll sometimes wonder why it's
worth pointing out press bias or unfairness. The way they figure it,
basically everyone is smart enough to take everything they see in the
press with a grain of salt. If they come across something that's not
true, they'll reject it.
It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice it just doesn't work that
way. Most people are either too busy, too apathetic, or not intelligent
enough to question the accuracy of something they see on TV or read
The latest Gallup survey provides a great illustration for this point.
According to Gallup, nearly one-half of the American public believes
that President Bush is deliberately manipulating oil prices to help
Republicans. The following is from USA
Today's recount of the poll (h/t: Ace):
With the election now less than 50 days away, I thought it might be fun to highlight some late evening/morning news items that the media might chose to ignore. After all, in the past three business days, the press have chosen to mostly ignore plummeting natural gas and heating bills as reported here, and plummeting gas prices as reported here. What might represent their most absurd negligence today?
Well, here are two obvious candidates; you decide. First up has to be the just released results of a USA Today/Gallup poll indicating that President Bush’s approval rating has risen to 44 percent (highest in a year), and that likely voters are now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans in the upcoming elections (details to follow).
Over the last week, President Bush’s poll numbers have improved. While the media was quick to highlight poll results when the President’s numbers were declining, they have been less enthusiastic about noting his resurgence. Referring to the "New York Times," co-host of "Fox and Friends" Steve Doocy noted:
"...So, this is really big news for the White House and I'm sure it's going to be on page one. So anyway, with a –because I know that when the president's approval rating was falling, it was on page one..."
Mr. Doocy searched the entire front section of the "Times" on air and was unable to locate news of improving popularity for President Bush. However, it was not just the ‘New York Times" that has omitted improving poll numbers. NBC’s "Today" made no mention of an NBC poll just released yesterday showing President Bush’s approval climbing to 42%. Additionally, neither ABC’s "Good Morning America" nor CBS’s "Early Show" mentioned President Bush’s improved standing with American voters.
To hear the establishment media tell it, the American public is unanimously against U.S. troops being in Iraq and the war against terror. We hear about every ragtag, fly-by-night anti-war group’s activities, no matter how small the turnout or ineffectual the impact.
Conversely, three Conservative activist groups unite to announce that they’ll converge on Washington, D.C., Sept. 22-23 to show their support for the war in Iraq and the soldiers fighting it, and it’s virtually impossible to find media coverage of the event.
Thursday’s off-lead story in the New York Times on a new CBS/NYT poll, “9/11 Polls Find Lingering Fears in New York City,” dwells on the fears that remain five years after the terrorist attacks in Manhattan and at the Pentagon.
But the national poll itself (the consortium also conducted a separate poll of just New Yorkers) found some interesting responses to three questions not mentioned in the story, perhaps because they conflicted with one of the Times’ irresponsible security scoops -- its revelation of the National Security Agency’s program to monitor communications between terror suspects without warrants
There was more bad news for President Bush during the 4pm EDT hour of Monday's "The Situation Room." In two separate reports from Bill Schneider and Dana Bash, the President was labeled "clueless" on his handling of Hurricane Katrina and Democratic talking points on the subject were repeated yet again.
Schneider’s piece focused on the toll Hurricane Katrina took on President Bush’s poll numbers. CNN’s senior political analyst argued that the President took two hits from Katrina:
Bill Schneider: "President Bush’s self-declared image as a compassionate conservative also took a hit. The public saw a remote, even clueless, President after Katrina struck."
Katie Couric has not said one word on the CBS Evening News, but she's already more famous than her future competitors, NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charles Gibson. She's also perceived as more "liberal" and more "biased" by conservatives.
Reports USA Today:
Incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is more familiar to viewers than her competitors are: 66% of people have an opinion of the former Today star, compared with fewer than half for NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charles Gibson.
But a new Pew Research Center poll of 1,506 people also shows that although she's more widely known, Couric has more negatives.
NEW YORK Traditional media brands like newspapers and television are far more trusted by the public than Web sites and blogs, accordign(sic) to a survey this week by British interactive marketing company Telecom Express.
1000 respondents were asked what percentage of the information they received fro mvarious(sic) sources was accurate, true and unbiased, according to Telecom Express.
Telecom Express? You mean that neutral polling organization that didn't put the polling data on line? Or the one that makes it's living off of .... newspapers, radio and TV? Below are two examples of their other recent press releases they don't want you to direct link.
On this morning’s "Early Show" on CBS, Tracy Smith, co-host of the "Saturday Early Show," served as a substitute co-host. Ms. Smith interviewed Evan Thomas, assistant Managing Editor of "Newsweek" magazine regarding the potential political impact the foiled London terror plot may have. As such, Smith suggested the Republicans are losing ground on the issue of terrorism and seemed hopeful that Democrats would be able make it one of their own issues, and even pounded her fists on the table to emphasize her point.
After talking with Mr. Thomas about airport security measures and how another terrorist attack can be prevented, Ms. Smith changed the subject to the politics and noted that President Bush hasn't received a bump in the CBS poll after the London terror arrests:
As many anticipated, Senator Joe Lieberman lost his bid for renomination to the U.S. Senate in Connecticut yesterday. This morning, as reported here by MRC analyst Geoff Dickens, all three network morning shows interviewed Mr. Lieberman and in essence told him to quit the race. And as reported here by Lyford Beverage, Harry Smith, co-host of the "Early Show" questioned the Senator from the left.
However, some important points have been neglected regarding Mr. Smith’s questions. As to Smith’s point:
"Incumbents do not get turned out of office, especially in primaries in this country."
Harry Smith makes it seem as this is something that has never happened before, that is an incumbent Senator losing a primary. Quite the contrary. In 2002, New Hampshire primary voters defeated incumbent Republican Senator Bob Smith in favor of then Congressman John Sununu. In 1992, Illinois Democrats threw out then Senator Alan Dixon and nominated Carol Mosely Braun. And in 1980, Alaska Democratic Senator Mike Gravel lost his bid for renomination to Clark Gruening, the grandson of the incumbent Senator that Gravel himself defeated in a primary in 1968. But if Smith needs further evidence that incumbents in fact do lose primaries, two other incumbents went down to defeat yesterday, Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney (who also lost a primary election as an incumbent in 2002) and Michigan Republican Joe Schwartz.
For the last decade or two, the Big Three network news ratings have declined and their once-iron grip on public opinion has loosened, prompting this debate: is this decline merely a sign of increasing 24-7 media availability (cable news, Internet sites) or is the liberal tilt of the networks driving conservative viewers away from these networks in favor of alternative outlets?
Network news executives have consistently chosen the former, denying a liberal bias and denying that the ratings decline means they should have to change their modus operandi in any way. They are in denial of the obvious. A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press proves the point. It shows a dramatic decline in nightly network news viewership in the last four years among the Republican viewers they polled. While the number of Democrats saying they regularly watch network news increased from 35 percent in 2002 to 38 percent in 2006, the number of Republicans who say they view major TV newscasts declined from 34 percent in 2002 to 24 percent in 2006.
A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey released today discovered, by “by a margin of 50 percent to 34 percent, Americans think that news organizations have hurt rather than helped the interests of the American people” with “news reports that the government has been secretly examining the bank records of American citizens who may have ties to terrorist groups.” However, “an even larger 65 percent to 28 percent majority believes that these news accounts told citizens something that they should know about.”
Republicans are much more upset with the media than Democrats, the poll, conducted July 6-19, found: “While nearly seven in ten Republicans (69 percent) believe the press reports have hurt the interests of the American people,” with a piddling 17 percent of Republicans contending it helped, “relatively few Democrats agree (38 percent). Instead, a 46 percent plurality of Democrats regards the press reporting as beneficial to the public's interest.”
A week after a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey determined that a much higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans prefer to get their news from the broadcast networks, CNN, MSNBC and NPR, a new Gallup Poll released today provides additional evidence that Democrats look more favorably upon the "mainstream media" as Gallup showed how “Democrats are more favorable than Republicans in their views” of eleven of 17 news personalities respondents were asked to assess. Dan Rather had the greatest net difference -- 38 percent -- with 86 percent of Democrats viewing him favorably, compared to just 48 percent of Republicans. Only two of the 17 news personalities (Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera) got more favorable evaluations from Republicans than Democrats. (Hat tip to Romenesko)
Others with a significant Democratic versus Republican approval gap include the incoming CBS Evening News anchor and the new co-host of NBC's Today: 17 points for Katie Couric (68% vs. 51%) and 15 points for Meredith Vieira (45% vs. 30%). Some others: Anderson Cooper (49% vs. 36%); Matt Lauer (65% vs. 53%), Barbara Walters (71% vs. 59%), Diane Sawyer (86% vs. 74%), Larry King (62% vs. 53%) and Bob Schieffer (54% vs. 47%).
Dontcha love it when liberal media members are confounded by poll results that don’t fit their view of the world? It drives them so batty that they suddenly start espousing all manner of absurd rationalizations they believe explain why so many Americans disagree with them.
Such was the case during the 7PM installment of “The Situation Room” Friday when Jack Cafferty shared with his viewers recent poll statistics showing that half of the country believes that Saddam Hussein had WMD before America invaded Iraq in March 2003. This didn’t sit well with Cafferty, who, true to form, blamed the public’s sentiments on Republicans.
This is really wonderful stuff necessitating the reader to be careful with drinking vessels (video link to follow):
Liberal media critics dismiss FNC as biased to the right, pointing to how Republicans prefer to watch it, but a new poll completed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that by the same margin that Republicans choose to get their news from FNC, Democrats prefer to learn their news from the broadcast networks and, to a somewhat lesser extent, CNN and NPR. In the survey released Sunday, 34 percent of Republicans reported they watch FNC regularly, compared to 20 percent of Democrats -- a 14 point spread. As for the broadcast networks, Pew reported: “The gap between Republicans and Democrats in regular viewership of the nightly network news on ABC, CBS, or NBC is now 14 points, nearly three times as large as it was in 2004; currently, 38 percent of Democrats regularly watch compared with 24 percent of Republicans. There is a slightly smaller gap in the regular audience for NPR -- 22 percent of Democrats listen regularly, compared with 13 percent of Republicans.” A higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans watch CNN, MSNBC, network morning shows, Sunday morning interview programs and TV news magazine shows. Other than FNC, Rush Limbaugh is the only measured news source to which more Republicans than Democrats turn.
Defending his recent mockery of FNC's Bill O'Reilly that included a Nazi salute, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his appearance on Tuesday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno to defend his actions, implying that he was inspired to do so at the suggestion of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to "do something creative," and also by viciously smearing O'Reilly as a defender of Nazis: "On the air in the last year, Bill O'Reilly has defended the Nazis from World War II on three separate occasions. ... Yes, I wish I were making this up." An ironic statement coming from Olbermann, who last year scolded public figures who use Nazi references, saying, "There's no place for the reference in this culture," and that the analogies are "wrong, offensive and deeply hurtful." (Transcript follows)
Video clip #1 (1:00) NBC runs Countdown promo of Olbermann slamming Ann Coulter, then he quips about Al Gore: Real (1.6 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (280 KB)
Video clip #2 (1:52) Olbermann explains why he did a Nazi salute while holding up a Bill O'Reilly mask: Real (3.1 MB) or Windows Media (3.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (550 KB)
Over at National Review, Richard Nadler reports the results of a comprehensive poll of Iraqis. They don't see things as negatively as the American press it seems:
The International Republican Institute’s “Survey of Iraqi Public
Opinion,” released July 19, 2006, provides a useful reality check to
these assumptions. The survey records that Iraqis overwhelmingly reject
sectarianism and national division; and that they widely support the
government they have elected. Moreover, most Iraqis feel safe in their
poll is the latest addition to a series that the Institute has
sponsored for the past three years. The surveys were conducted June 14
through June 24 this year—a time of high sectarian violence,
particularly in the Baghdad area. The pollsters conducted 2849
interviews in Arabic and Kurdish, balanced for geography, ethnicity,
sex, and age.
The February 22 bombing of the al-Askari shrine
marked a turning point for the insurgency in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq,
led at the time by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, implemented a long-discussed
plan to target Shiite civilian and religious targets. The object was
not to kill all Shiites—an obvious impossibility—but to generate a
cycle of revenge killings by Shiite militias and police that would
alienate and radicalize the Sunni populations in the most integrated
parts of the country, particularly Baghdad.
In effect, Zarqawi
chose to feed the anti-democracy insurgency in Iraq by narrowing its
base. This paid immediate tactical dividends in both the Western and
pan-Arab press, which covered the daily slaughters. But it was
strategically counterproductive to al-Qaeda. The movement alienated
ever-growing segments of the Iraqi population, and even of the
insurgency, driving them toward the new government rather than away
A story in The Washington Post yesterday contained some survey data that bolster an argument the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (BMI) has made for years now: the media's negativism on the economy has a strong influence on the public:
The paper sponsored “a survey-based experiment”
of “more than 2,500 online respondents” who were “shown a brief news
clip before being asked to reply to a series of questions.” The views
of respondents on their personal economic well-being were wildly
different between survey-takers shown a story on gas prices and
respondents shown a story on job growth.