How Biased Is the Media?


Zogby International’s post-election poll gives us an idea how effectively the media got across negative stories about the two tickets. This was a poll of self-identified Obama voters conducted last week. The results are a bit disturbing. Following a multiple-choice format, voters displayed their awareness, or lack thereof, of certain negative news items from the campaign.
  • Aware that Palin was the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter - 94%
  • Aware that Palin was the candidate with the pricey wardrobe - 86%
  • Aware that Biden was the candidate to predict Obama will be "tested" - 53%
  • Aware that Democrats currently control the House and Senate - 43%
  • Aware that Biden was the candidate who dropped out of an earlier presidential race due to plagiarism - 28%
  • Aware that Obama was the candidate who first won election by removing all opponents from the ballot - 17%
  • Aware that Obama was the candidate who said his energy policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry - 12%
This says a certain amount about the voters - less than half knew that Democrats control both houses of Congress. And it says a certain amount about the media - it managed to inform people very well of trivial "scandals", like Palin's wardrobe and Biden's "test" statement, and very poorly of serious content and history. The anti-Republican bias is also clear.

The group that commissioned the Zogby survey has a video of a dozen Obama voters trying to answer these questions on election day.

Hat tip to BOTWT.

Posted by Chops at November 19, 2008 4:46 PM
Comments
Comment #270598

When you say “(t)he anti-Republican bias is also clear,” do you mean in the media or amongst Obama voters? I’ll agree if you mean amongst voters, but it doesn’t by itself say a thing about the media.

To truly say that this shows that the media is biased, we’d have to see if a similar number of McCain voters knew similar negative trivial information about Obama and Biden but not important information.

Without that breadth of investigation, this could be nothing more than confirmation bias - that individuals pay attention to information that confirms to what we want to believe.

The attempt to portray the confirmation bias that we all have as individuals as an example of the media’s supposed liberal bias shows more about the bias of the pollster than anything else.

Additionally, this poll is seen by some as a “push poll” commissioned by a real jerk.

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 5:00 PM
Comment #270599

Chops -
I’ve mentioned previously that I did an informal survey of voters before the election. I asked one simple question: “What will your candidate do as president that no one else in his party would have done?” Most of McCain supporters knew the answer. Most Obama supporters just looked at me with a blank look. They were ignorant of who Obama was, what he believed, and what he would do if elected.

The poll you mentioned affirmed what I already knew.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 5:00 PM
Comment #270600
The poll you mentioned affirmed what I already knew.

Another example of confirmation bias.

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 5:01 PM
Comment #270603

Lawnboy
“Additionally, this poll is seen by some as a “push poll” commissioned by a real jerk.”

Those “some” haven’t read the methodology of the poll.

Additionally, the commissioner of the poll is willing to do the other side if someone else pays the tab (feel free to contact him and offer to pay). Alan Colmes made the same argument to the author of the study and was offered this same opportunity, but he declined to pay for it.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 5:08 PM
Comment #270606
Those “some” haven’t read the methodology of the poll.

That’s ridiculous. The selection of questions itself was biased.

The three things Chops listed that more than 50% knew all happened in the final months of the campaign, whereas two of the three things that less than 40% knew happened at least 10 years ago (and the other one is a misquote of a snippet from a conversation in January).

From this, a reasonable conclusion from the data is that people know more about what happened since they started paying attention. But that’s not the point Ziegler was trying to make, so he ignores it. That’s bad polling.

I’m sure that the liberal voters would have done poorly on questions like these as well:

  • Which candidate once called their spouse a ‘cunt’ in front of five witnesses?
  • Which candidate abandoned their first spouse after a disfiguring car accident, in order to marry a much-younger person with a great amount inherited wealth?

I’m sure the number of Obama voters who know these negative things about McCain would be low as well. What does that prove? Nothing. But the fact that the questions weren’t asked says something about the questioner.

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 5:17 PM
Comment #270607

“Another example of confirmation bias.”

It would be if I hadn’t already done my homework by asking a large number of individuals (informally) and listening to their responses. They were all strangers, BTW, and not all of one race or gender. Since my sample wasn’t national, I can only confirm that most of the voters for Obama in my local area with whom I spoke were ignorant. However, I bet you don’t know anything about the voters in your area that you didn’t hear from the news. Like I said, pony up the money and get the other side of the poll if you don’t believe it.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 5:18 PM
Comment #270609

“That’s ridiculous. The selection of questions itself was biased.”

But you haven’t read the methodology yourself, have you?

They are only biased if you think knowing about the candidates (their history as well as what they say) is important in an election for president of the United States.

Further, if you are willing to put your money to the test, you can find out how good the methodology is.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 5:24 PM
Comment #270611

Correction: I meant to say…
“They are only biased if you DON’T think knowing about the candidates (their history as well as what they say) is important in an election for president of the United States.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 5:27 PM
Comment #270612
But you haven’t read the methodology yourself, have you?

Actually, I have. And I’ve read and thought about the questions enough to realize that it’s useless.

Having read the methodology doesn’t counter the problems I’ve listed with the poll. Just because you like what the pollster tells you it means doesn’t mean it’s valid.

The pollster picked exact questions for one side and ambiguous questions for the other. The pollster picked recent questions for one side and old questions for the other. There is no control. Those flaws are enough to show that the comparison of results is meaningless.

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 5:31 PM
Comment #270613

This could certainly be viewed as a push poll on one dimension: it implicitly attributed to Sarah Palin the quote, “I can see Russia from my house”, which is actually a Tina Fey quote. Otherwise, it was factual, and gave equal time to the dirty laundry of both parties.

The main arguments against it being a push poll are that it was conducted after the election, and covered only 500+ voters. A push poll would reach thousands of voters before an election… and wouldn’t be conducted by an expensive, indy outfit like Zogby.

As far as confirmation bias: the multiple choice format makes it likely that the estimates for Republicans are overstated and the estimates for Democrats are correct. Those who didn’t know and guessed would be more likely to guess against a candidate they dislike or didn’t respect.

To me, the most damning question by far is on control of Congress. This was an important issue - to me, among the biggest reasons to vote for McCain - and was obviously not well known. Is there any incentive to lie to a pollster about control of Congress? I’d like to see one of you naysayers explain that away.

Posted by: Chops at November 19, 2008 5:38 PM
Comment #270614
Otherwise, it was factual, and gave equal time to the dirty laundry of both parties.

Equal time to unequal laundry. Equating Palin’s shopping in September and Biden’s plagiarism troubles in 1988 is a false equivalence.

The main arguments against it being a push poll are that it was conducted after the election, and covered only 500+ voters. A push poll would reach thousands of voters before an election… and wouldn’t be conducted by an expensive, indy outfit like Zogby.

I will agree to this point. It doesn’t really fit the profile of a push poll. It’s just a really bad poll with bad questions and no control that doesn’t actually say what its authors want us to believe.

To me, the most damning question by far is on control of Congress…I’d like to see one of you naysayers explain that away.

Define “explain that away”; what do you think it means? That the media has a liberal bias? That liberals are dumb? That it was a poorly-written question that didn’t define “before”?

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 5:44 PM
Comment #270616
To me, the most damning question by far is on control of Congress…I’d like to see one of you naysayers explain that away.

Another point on this is that the American populace generally have shockingly low understanding of the details of American political life. After all, more Americans know the seven dwarves than supreme court justices. In 1994, 57% of Americans hadn’t heard of Newt Gingrich.

If 57% of all Americans didn’t know the Repulican Spearker of the House then, how is it evidence of media “liberal bias” that 57% of a subset of Americans don’t know which party runs the Congress now?

So, what do you think that survey result says? What is it damning proof of? And how can you come to that conclusion in confidence when these numbers are outside any context of what one would expect the answer to be?

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 19, 2008 6:15 PM
Comment #270618

You assume the voters got their info from the ‘media’. How about the fact that in Texas 23% of all respondents believed that Obama was Muslim. Why anyone would believe anything that the Fox News or any other conservative group says about its opposition is beyond many truly informed citizens. Watching the Hannity special on Obama, complete with 60’s horror movie soundtrack, was hilarious. I just wish Hannity would go ahead and stroke out, which surely he would do if he truly believed what he was saying.

The past week on the radio Hannity has been touting the “Community Reinvestment Act Theory” as the reason for the housing collapse. Any biased or unbiased look at the numbers indicate placing blame for the bulk of failed mortgages there is ridiculous. Now Rush is blaming Obama for the recession… the guy’s not even sworn in yet. Recall the GOP convention?? A week of making fun of Obama as a ‘community organizer’. How’d that work out. Seems the rest of the country didn’t get your smug ‘jokes’.

Any credibility problem the conservatives have is clearly of their own making. Tell the whole story once in awhile and you might be believed.

Posted by: LibRick at November 19, 2008 6:25 PM
Comment #270626

I believe the better question is:
How useless is the media in helping voters from all parties become informed voters?

I watched all the networks, read the websites, listened to the candidates, read articles from different sources.
I felt I made the correct decision with plenty of information from many sources.
I did not want either one of the two main candidates.

The media helps bring the choice down to 2 people. There were 13 running for president? How many knew that?
Did they ask these people how many candidates there actually were?
I got to the poll. Went to the machine to vote. I expected to have 13 names to choose from. The day before our state had them all listed on the website. There were 3 names under the heading ‘President’. What happened to the other 10?

Posted by: Dawn at November 19, 2008 7:07 PM
Comment #270631


And voters wonder who is to blame for the banking crisis?

Posted by: jlw at November 19, 2008 8:57 PM
Comment #270632

I believe the bias argument is a loser. Why? Because if your people genuinely are unpopular, it gives you an excuse not to deal with it. If you people really are incompetent, it gives you an excuse not to believe that it could be true. If your ideology and agenda are no longer shared, it gives you license to imagine a silent majority out there, just waiting to flock to your banner, if only you didn’t have to deal with the filter of the media.

And as such, it creates a situation where one, rather than grow closer to the rest of the nation, grows apart from them, grows ignorant of what concerns them, what inspires them, and so on and so forth.

This holds true, even if the bias is real.

Republicans need to recognize that indulging this fear, this conviction about media bias is only making it easier for the Republican viewpoint to become a poorly related, poorly founded, poorly interacting species of national political discourse.

Democrats like myself pushed ourselves to become better arguers, to reach out beyond just our fellow liberals, and to assert ourselves competitively in the media without having to reserve ourselves a narrow channel just for our use. We grew out, and spread fine roots into the rest of the country, rather than folding in on ourselves in a hard shell. The Republican’s inherently defensive, self-indulgent, anti-social attitudes are succeeding in alienating and excluding those the party needs to reach.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2008 9:09 PM
Comment #270634

Lawnboy,

NOW you’ve done it. I keep trying to figure out which Justice corresponds with which dwarf. Sleepy and Grumpy are easy.

Posted by: snert at November 19, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #270640

SD-
“The Republican’s inherently defensive, self-indulgent, anti-social attitudes are succeeding in alienating and excluding those the party needs to reach.”

You’re joking, surely, for I would hope you to be more fair and intelligent for all your pushing to be “better arguers”.

Being an outsider to both main parties I have observed that there is no “inherently” in one party that does not also apply to the other. Mostly, as Remer often asserts when he’s not otherwise merely opposing Republicans, most of the party leaders from both sides are power-hungry, self-righteous, and not worthy of the positions they hold for so long.

This list is hilariously wrong-headed. Plus, I believe you mis-applied the term “anti-social” for I have seen many on the Republican side who are very social. I think the term you were trying for is “anti-socialist”… For surely the Democrats in power are heading toward socialism at a hurried pace and the Republicans mostly oppose this trend.

Further, this post is about the amazing ignorance of those who elected Obama. I am surprised that a well-read itellectual like yourself would stoop to argue the defense of the uninformed and ignorant. Surely you have read the writings of the framers of our nation’s constitution and have come to the realization that they never intended for the “ignorant” to select our leaders. Those framers never intended for those who were ignorant about our government to be “reached” by any argument. Those people were to be ignored in the process. Now we see why our founders felt that way.

Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 10:03 PM
Comment #270645

The next Zogby ought to ask, ‘is William Ayers a domestic terrorist, who has killed people’?

If Republicans are the target of such a survey, you can bet a positive response will approach 99%.

Left leaning media, HA!

Posted by: Nincompoop at November 19, 2008 11:30 PM
Comment #270646

Don-
My intent on the critique was not to defame the Republicans. I’d tell my liberal friends who concern themselves with bad press or unfair media treatment the same thing: You have to be able to stand up for yourself in any arena of debate, not merely those that are fair or stacked in your favor. You have to be convincing to more than the choir you’re preaching to, if you want converts.

The socialism cracks don’t help you. It just reminds people of how obnoxious the Right Wing’s been lately, how intent on maintaining the social status quo, maintaining the divisions of the culture war.

As for amazing ignorance? Is that what you’ve sunk to here, Calling the electorate stupid to explain a defeat? Sure, that will endear you with Obama voters. People aren’t as stupid as you think, so will you treat them with some damn respect?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2008 11:33 PM
Comment #270647

>Those framers never intended for those who were ignorant about our government to be “reached” by any argument. Those people were to be ignored in the process. Now we see why our founders felt that way.
Posted by: Don at November 19, 2008 10:03 PM

Don,

Are you one of those who earlier on accused Obama of being an elitist? If you were, please reread your 270640.

The framers did not expect women to achieve high office or wealth either. And, I’m sure you’re aware that they only gave black people 3/5ths of personhood. There was a much different culture in the 16th century. I’m hoping you would not wish us to return to those halceon days?!?

Posted by: Nincompoop at November 19, 2008 11:37 PM
Comment #270650

Chops I am just not seeing it. The media bias that is. It must be me so help me out. From what I have read your theory is the media is biased against republicans and conservatives because Obama/Biden voters knew more negatives about McCain and Palin than they did about Obama and Biden.

This poll really doesn’t prove media bias. According to you it didn’t include any McCain voters to prove any bias. It may prove Obama voters watch MSNBC much more than they watch Fox News. It may prove Obama voters listen to Air America more than Rush Limbaugh. It may prove Obama voters only hear the soundbites they choose to on any station. But then didn’t we already know that? Thats personal preference not media bias.

Most media outlets can be biased against one political philosophy at a given point in time. Some media outlets can be biased towards or against a political philosophy most of the time. But the media as a whole has more of a bias towards what sells commercials than political philosophy.

Take a poll of PBS viewers on the same issue regardless of who they voted for. This wing nut who commissioned the poll appears to be more interested in promoting his own propaganda than a serious poll doesn’t he?

Anyway what am I missing here Chops?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 19, 2008 11:59 PM
Comment #270651

Chops wrote “This says a certain amount about the voters - less than half knew that Democrats control both houses of Congress.”

Well perhaps from their viewpoint the Dems don’t control both houses of Congress. Now if the question was “which party had more members in both houses of the Congress” then you would have an issue.” But control, as in “To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over” is questionable isn’t it? The Repubs set the record for filibustering the first year of the 110th Congress didn’t they? Did they not obstruct the work of the Congressional Dems to such a degree that only 18% of the public thinks Congress has done a good job?
Seems as a political strategy it backfired on the repubs this election cycle.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 20, 2008 12:11 AM
Comment #270657
You assume the voters got their info from the ‘media’. How about the fact that in Texas 23% of all respondents believed that Obama was Muslim. Why anyone would believe anything that the Fox News or any other conservative group says about its opposition is beyond many truly informed citizens.
Here, in fact, is a case of bigotry against a supposedly conservative news source. Fox News, while reporting Obama’s verifiable connection to Muslims has not said he is a Muslim in my hearing. None, NONE, of the conservative media sources I listen to, not Fox, not Rush Limbaugh, not Sean Hannity, not Houston’s KSEV radio, has supported this mutant of the Internet rumor mill. None the less people commenting on this site repeat the popular lie that they do.

By so doing they commit the same violation of truth they would accuse others of committing.

The real point of Chop’s article should scare us all. Obama’s principle qualification to the voters who chose him was that they DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM. They don’t know what he really believes. They don’t know how he really plans to govern. He was simply easier to trust than a craggy war hero and a woman about whom they had heard nothing but scandal.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 20, 2008 9:07 AM
Comment #270658

j2t2,

Well perhaps from their viewpoint the Dems don’t control both houses of Congress. Now if the question was “which party had more members in both houses of the Congress” then you would have an issue.” But control, as in “To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over” is questionable isn’t it? The Repubs set the record for filibustering the first year of the 110th Congress didn’t they? Did they not obstruct the work of the Congressional Dems to such a degree that only 18% of the public thinks Congress has done a good job?
Watch the linked video, j2t2, then tell me these people were making a fine-tuned philosophical examination of the meanings of the word “control”.

That’s really funny.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 20, 2008 9:14 AM
Comment #270659

j2t2 and others -

Absolutely, the poll would have been much better if it surveyed voters of both parties. That would have told us more about the electorate, more about polling bias, and more about the media. But we have to work with the data we’ve got.

Given this data, what we see is frighteningly large margins by which people know or don’t know facts from the recent election.

Biden’s plagiarism was in 1988, sure. But Palin’s daughter isn’t even running for anything! How is the latter more relevant to the leadership of the country? And both the coal quote (said in January, revealed the week before the election) and the “tested” quote are recent, relevant campaign news. Voters who knew every piece of scuttlebutt about Palin were obviously learning that somewhere. Perhaps around the water-cooler… but more likely on the evening news, the talk shows, or Saturday Night Live.

I’d like to see the entire results of the survey. For instance, did voters know in equal proportions about Palin’s wardrobe (a non-issue) and Palin’s “troopergate” (a potentially real issue)? If more of the former, that’s the media’s fault. Did more people know Jeremiah Wright’s (less relevant) quotes than Obama’s (more relevant) “clinging to guns and God” quote? That could help us discern media responsibility.

Ultimately, it’s hard to measure bias, since there’s no absolute yardstick available. Stephen is right - media bias can be used to explain away lousy candidates. I agree that McCain didn’t deserve much positive coverage - he ran a terrible campaign, and I ultimately couldn’t vote for him (more on that in a future post).

The converse is also true: an uncritical media makes a party think its lousy candidates (read: Al Gore, John Kerry) are actually strong. The Democrats may find, as they did in 1993, that they have vastly overestimated the public’s support for the socialization of medicine and other goals, based on the media’s leftist slant.


Posted by: Chops at November 20, 2008 9:15 AM
Comment #270663

Yes most of the electorate knew that Palin was the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter, and that Palin was the candidate with the pricey wardrobe. They also knew about Bill Aryes and Reverent Wright. But how many of them knew where the candidates stood on health care or immigration or any of the other issues that matter? MAN-OH-MAN DOES OUR MEDIA SUCK!

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at November 20, 2008 9:52 AM
Comment #270664

Opps sorry

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at November 20, 2008 10:10 AM
Comment #270668

Spot on Mike the Cynic the media is after sensationalism not substance, perhaps because the American people want sensationalism not substance. But to allege,as the right does,the media as a whole is biased against conservatives and Republicans is a red herring IMHO.

Lee the “control” issue goes more to the quality of the poll. I would probably agree that the majority of the people shown would not argue the fine points. A couple may have. The video had an excellent soundtrack though, to bad it is being used for political propaganda.

Chops, “But we have to work with the data we’ve got.”

I don’t understand what compels us to work with just this data. GIGO comes to mind. Seems the guy has an axe to grind and half the story really doesn’t lead us to a logical conclusion does it? I’m still thinking the media bias claimed by the right is greatly exaggerated and by using this poll as data to prove this bias only serves to weaken any claims to bias IMHO.


I mean in this election what did one really need to know to cast a vote? A promise of change or more of the same. A partisan standoff or cooperation by our leaders to solve the mess created this past 30 years. Everything else was fluff.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 20, 2008 10:39 AM
Comment #270672
How is the latter more relevant to the leadership of the country?

It’s probably not. However, the claim you made was not that the media focuses on trivialities. It was that the media has a liberal bias. That consumers of the media know more about a story from the last few months than they do about a story from 20 years ago doesn’t prove ideological bias. It’s that simple.

…the “tested” quote are recent, relevant campaign news
Yes, which conforms much more to the analysis that people know more about recent news than about old news than it does to support your claim about ideological bias.

The coal industry (mis?)quote wasn’t just revealed in the last weeks - it had been reported and online for months.

I’d like to see the entire results of the survey
It’s here. Troopergate wasn’t asked about. Gods and guns and Wright weren’t asked about. It’s a crappy poll. Posted by: LawnBoy at November 20, 2008 11:30 AM
Comment #270677

Lee Jamison-
Nothing to do with it, right? It’s not like they spread such spurious innuendo.

One wonders why they keep on repeating Barack’s middle name. Because it sounds Irish?

They may not be responsible for all the rumors, but they sure are doing their best to slander his character. Rush Limbaugh Calls him a “halfrican American”, Tells his listeners Obama hates America, that he’s only winning because he’s black, and so on and so forth. And just what were they trying to do by putting Rev. Wright on a loop?

Bigotry is their stock in trade. They just sell it with a spoon full of sugared rhetoric, designed to make the folks listening feel good about being reactionists. Does it feel good to be alleging that 67 million Americans are morons?

I guess that’s an easier thing to believe than your party being out of touch, or behind the times. But my advice is, face the awful truth: Republicans are in a bad place. The American people thought they had people who could handle the economy, handle the military, handle the budget and other things in there. Now they don’t think the Republicans can do so.

Without that faith, the rhetoric falls on deaf ears.

That is, if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, you will see the rhetoric encourage even more people to leave the Republicans on the side of the road.

Chops-
Palin’s daughter became a subject of controversy because of her mother’s beliefs. Even with all the idiocy cleared up about whose child Trig was, one ultimate problem remained for Palin: Republicans tell people how to live their lives, so what qualifies her, given her daughter’s pregnancy to be put in a position putting her agenda into action?

The thing about the Republicans is that their troubles were mostly self-inflicted. They lied about things that ten minutes on Google could reveal the truth about. They changed their position every ten seconds, trying to keep up with public opinion. They bore the weight of three decades of an experiment in laissez faire governance and Military adventurism that hadn’t ended well.

The controversies with the Democrats were mostly manufactured. That’s not to say they didn’t start with real things, but they weren’t things staring people in the face. Additionally, many of the attacks were of dubious character, or didn’t excite the average person the way that say, the prospect of losing your home or job might. Maybe in other times, the press might have agreed that these matters needed wall to wall coverage, but in the end, America had much more urgent problems on its hands, which meant nobody had the taste for the smallness of that kind of politics.

If you want to know why the Press reported more on the problems of the Republicans than the Democrats, there you have it: The Republican’s mistakes were bigger problems in relation to the public good, as far as people believed, and all their rhetoric about how bad the Democrats might be was undercut by just how bad the Republican’s policy was, and still is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2008 12:43 PM
Comment #270683

Chops

i watched that video clip. i have to say that it’s absolutely frightening that people who are that uninformed actually are allowed to vote. it’s no wonder the democratic party was so anxious to bus highschool kids to the poles.

Posted by: dbs at November 20, 2008 1:58 PM
Comment #270687


Perhaps the republicans and democrats should ask Barr, Nader and other third party candidates about the media bias, political bias and monetary bias of our political system.

The two parties spent close to 2 billion dollars in this campaign, primarily on political propaganda lies.

Look at how Obama is backtracking on policy pledges he made during the campaign and he hasn’t even taken office yet. For example, Obamas pledge on lobbyists or his pledge on no people with conflicts of interest in his cabinet.

Obamas cabinet is shaping up to be a who’s who of lobbyists and good old boy network cronies. I am sure that liberals who showed a bias against the Clintons and the DNC will have no problem defending Obamas choices even though his administration is shaping up to look like a Clinton/DNC clone.

Posted by: jlw at November 20, 2008 2:18 PM
Comment #270691


“i have to say that it’s absolutely frightening that people who are that uninformed actually are allowed to vote.”

Or run for office but hey smart isn’t a requirement for the candidate. Before we worry about the intelligence of voters lets not forget the real problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nokTjEdaUGg&feature=related

Posted by: j2t2 at November 20, 2008 3:31 PM
Comment #270693

j2t2

are you waiting for me to defend her ?

Posted by: dbs at November 20, 2008 3:56 PM
Comment #270695

How would anyone defend that. My point is the Obama crowd certainly aren’t the only ones who are uninformed. To think that voters should be barred from voting based upon knowledge doesn’t work for me.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 20, 2008 4:12 PM
Comment #270699

It’s interesting to see this rationalization used among the Republicans, but it amounts to the same argument Republicans have been giving themselves for years: “If voters really knew who and what they were voting for, they would vote for us.”

Have you considered that people might learn what they’re voting for, and reject it on those grounds? Do you think that the so-called critical knowledge might not seem so critical to your target audience?

And do you think, at the end of the day, that the problem might just be that you folks have got it wrong, and folks just want to move on from that?

Stop flattering yourselves. Start taking a good, long look at where your party is now.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2008 4:41 PM
Comment #270708

All this shows is that voters for a certain candidate are more likely to know more negatives about the opposing candidate and more positives about the candidate they support.

This doesn’t indicate a media bias so much as a voter bias, which you kind of have to expect: a voter tends to be biased in favor of the candidate they support and against the candidate they oppose.

In other words, your post might actually mean something had you made a comparison of similar types of “issues” awareness among self-identified McCain/Palin voters to those of self-identified Obama/Biden voters.

For example, what do you think the percentage of McCain/Palin voters were aware that Obama’s middle name is Hussein? Probably a lot more than the percentage of Obama/Biden voters who did.

What do you think the percentage of McCain/Palin voters were aware that Obama had spent less time in elective office than Palin had? Probably a lot more than the percentage of Obama/Biden voters who did.

If the numbers were roughly the same for the McCain/Palin voters as for the Obama/Biden voters for a given “issue”, it might mean something.

But to simply say that because Obama/Biden voters were more aware of negatives against McCain/Palin and more aware of positives in favor of Obama/Biden indicates media bias is hogwash.

It’s nothing more than lying with statistics.

Nice try, better luck next time.

Posted by: EJN at November 20, 2008 5:59 PM
Comment #270714

Coming at this from the opposite direction:

Suppose you meet a voter who says they’ve heard and believe all the good stuff about Obama/Biden and they’ve heard and believe all the bad stuff about McCain/Palin, and they voted for Obama/Biden, that’s to be expected, right? Kind of like 1+1=2 and the sun rising in the east, I would say. And this is exactly the scenario your original post depicted.

On the other hand, suppose you meet a voter who says they’ve heard and believe all the good stuff about Obama/Biden and they’ve heard and believe all the bad stuff about McCain/Palin, and yet in spite of all that they voted for McCain/Palin, what would your reaction be? Astonishment? Pity? Anger that someone could seemingly intentionally vote against their own best interest?

I just don’t see how you can consider an Obama/Biden voter, who knows all the positives about Obama/Biden and all the negatives about McCain/Palin (whether true or not), to be at all remarkable or to be indicative of anything.

Posted by: EJN at November 20, 2008 7:16 PM
Comment #270736

BTW, a piece in the Wall Street Journal discusses this situation. Here are some excerpts:

Zogby International recently conducted a survey for a critic of president-elect Barack Obama and then, together with the sponsor, interpreted the numbers from the survey in a misleading fashion

“This was not Zogby International’s finest hour,” he (John Zogby) said. “Something, somehow, fell through the cracks.”

There were 10 questions that were meant to be answered with the name of one of the candidates. Five of them covered events that had surfaced in the three months before the election: McCain’s inability to say how many homes he owned; Palin’s pregnant teenage daughter; Palin’s wardrobe budget; Obama’s intent to redistribute wealth; and Biden’s comment that Obama would be tested by an international crisis. On those questions, more than half of Obama voters correctly identified the involved candidate (the percentage for the last question was lowest, at 53.3%; on the others, it was in the 80s).


The other five questions covered events or comments during the primary or from decades ago, including Obama’s first campaign and a Biden presidential bid in 1987 done in by charges of plagiarism in law school and on the campaign trail. On four of these questions, the correct answer was chosen more frequently than the other three candidates combined, but many voters — on some questions, most — were unsure. On three questions, fewer than 25% of respondents got the right answer, prompting Ziegler to tell Fox News “that a group of monkeys if they had been guessing would have done better than Obama voters” on those questions, not because Obama voters were unintelligent but because they were misinformed.


On the fifth question about older events, “Which candidate said their policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket?”, more voters named McCain than Obama. However, Obama’s cited comments — made in January in a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board — referred to bankrupting new coal plants, not the industry. He was speaking about a cap-and-trade system for emissions, something that McCain also has supported.


Just 43% correctly responded that the Democrats did, with 21% answering neither or saying they were unsure. Fox’s Sean Hannity called that “frightening,” but it may have said less about Obama voters’ knowledge than about all voters’ knowledge; just 53% of all respondents, from both parties, got a similar question right in a Pew poll in May that I wrote about last month.


Apart from the exclusion of McCain supporters and whether the poll’s questions were representative of overall campaign knowledge, the poll didn’t demonstrate that the news media favored Obama, or that any media distortions “got Obama elected.” No questions addressed how voters got their information or how the answers to the questions influenced their vote. It may well be that supporters of each candidate gravitate toward media that downplay the shortcomings of their own candidates and highlight those of opponents — or simply that they retain knowledge that conforms with their world view.

Emphasis is mine.

Basically, it’s a horribly-written poll that used bad questions to push an agenda, and whose results better support many conclusions other than the one intended.

I think it’s time to move on.

Posted by: LawnBoy at November 21, 2008 10:17 AM
Comment #270738

LawnBoy,

Yeah, let’s move on…even Zogby is holding his nose.

Posted by: Nincompoop at November 21, 2008 10:38 AM
Comment #270742

Sorry timmy
The USA voters vetted Obama and McCain — and guess what?
Obama was found superior in their eyes.
And by the way when you post “This just prooves America is at its Dumbest Point in the History Of America”
That says as much about you as that survey says about the USA.
America is a continent not a country. Isn’t sad you do not know the difference?

—Savage

Posted by: A Savage at November 21, 2008 12:49 PM
Comment #270748

What’s the current number of people that believe:
- Iraq and Saddam were involved in the 911 attacks?
- Saddam possessed WMDs
- Al Qaeda and Iraq were working together against the US

Posted by: john trevisani at November 21, 2008 2:38 PM
Comment #270843

To ALL -

Even Zogby wants to disavow the poll in question, claiming it was put together while he was on vacation.

Just another example of the conservatives searching for SOMEthing, ANYthing they can find against the Dems…just like the girl who had a ‘B’ carved in her face by a Big Black Guy.

Doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, just so long as it makes the Democrats look bad.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at November 23, 2008 4:43 PM
Comment #271631

“America” is short for “United States of America”.

“North America” is a continent, and “South America” is a continent, but “America” refers to the country.

Just wanted to clear that up for you, Savage.

Oh, and please elaborate your point John Trevisani.

Posted by: Programpro at December 8, 2008 12:30 AM
Comment #271657

I think that somehow diminishes all that are not citizens of the United States. Being Norde Americano is one thing, but attributing such emphasis on the America part of United States of America seems a little harsh to Canadians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, etal. I hate to diminish people just because they weren’t born in the United States.

If I’m going to be called dumb, I want to make sure all those others aren’t tarred with the same brush…:)

Posted by: Marysdude at December 8, 2008 3:23 PM
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