Biased Polls: Bad Then, Worse Now

by Mike on January 9, 2007

in Politics

The Media Research Center takes an interesting look at See BS’s biased reporting on their own poll concerning the President’s decision to increase the number of troops in Iraq. Exposing biased media reports on polling is nothing new of course, but such efforts should receive more attention given the left’s attempt to undermine the Commander in Chief during a time of war.

The crowned jewel of the MSM political playbook is the use of polls as self-fulfilling prophecies. I first noticed this in the 1996 election when story after story focused not on the differences between Clinton and Dole, but on Clinton’s insurmountable lead.  Although Dole was never 15-20 points behind, the drumbeat of negativity and hopelessness effectively prevented Dole from ever having a chance. That’s not to say Dole would have won, but the media wasn’t prepared to chance it.

The tactic reappeared during the Clinton impeachment scandal. When the story first broke, Bubba looked finished. Contrast the tone of the early coverage with the coverage that emerged after the media reported poll after poll which claimed the scandal was “just about sex.”

After President Bush essentially ended the careers of John Kerry and Dan Rather in 2004, the media did not lick their wounds for long. Unscientific polls which oversampled Democrats came out of the woodwork in an attempt to undermine the President on a number of issues. Blogger reactions to these polls were initially effective. Unfortunately, these efforts were overwhelmed by the sheer number of junk polls. Facing an avalanche of bad polls and a silent President, public opinion turned. The slumping numbers were blamed on Iraq and now one hundred hours equals two years.

See BS’s biased reporting on their own polling data is especially serious because it addresses questions of war. As the following excerpt from Meet the Press shows, Democrats and the media are already beginning to frame the troop surge as a last chance.

MR. RUSSERT: If the surge doesn’t work, will Republicans senators then go to the president and say, “Enough”?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well let’s talk a little bit about the—why he’s doing the surge. Again, he’s trying to come up with a strategy for victory, and our Democratic friends have written the president a letter days before he makes a speech explaining what he’s going to do and why. Every Democratic proposal that I’ve been privy to has one common denominator to it: withdrawal. He received a letter from the speaker of the House, from the majority leader of the Senate saying, “Bring this war to an end. Redeploy in four to six months.” We…

MR. RUSSERT: No, but my question, Senator—Senator, my question was, if the surge does not work…


MR. RUSSERT: …will Republicans then say, “We tried everything. We gave it our last best hope. Mr. President, the war has been lost”?

Their gameplan is set.

  1. Frame the troop surge as a last chance.
  2. Conduct some polls oversampling the Democrats.
  3. Spin the results.
  4. Avoid reporting any progress on the ground.
  5. Label the war a failure even if it isn’t.
  6. Undermine the country during a time of war.

The biased poll play was dirty before. Now it’s just plain despicable.

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