CNN Poll Presentation Preference

I want to briefly talk about the CNN ‘disclaimer’ that was being stated after every utterance of the result numbers. I’d like to understand the reason for that being added to the discussion of the numbers when it wasn’t there after the first debate.

In the first presidential debate, the mix was: Democrats (37%), Republicans (33%), and Independents (29%) and in this debate the mix was Democrats (33%), Republicans (33%), and Independents (33%), which is to say that the mix is basically the same but a more even divide of democrats and independents. Now I watched the first debate and the second debate, and I find it amusing that there were some distinct differences in how the poll data was reported.

Wolf giving the results.

Let’s look at the first issue. After the first debate, when it was a clear Romney win, they brought up the numbers of the poll and never mentioned the amount of Republicans or Democrats surveyed etc.. as a disclaimer to the results. Not so in the most recent one, where Wolf Blitzer stood there repeating a obviously prepared for him statement of disclaimer that there were 8% more Republicans surveyed for this poll than they normally do. That is both true and false, and since CNN is so fond of unrequested fact-checking I’ll do a bit for them. If you go back and look at the numbers from their first presidential debate, you’ll see that they polled -exactly- the same percentage of Republicans in both debates (data for debate 1, data for debate 2).

So what are they referring to? Well normally CNN oversamples Democrats by about 8% in their CNN polling results, but since this is done by an actual research company (ORC International) so that it can have credence as a scientific poll the presidential debates are actually measured equally among party splits. So why mention it if they used the exact same percentage of Republicans in both presidential polls? Exactly. When there is clearly no good reason to suddenly start putting up disclaimers (that you didn’t put up the first time) for using the same results you already used, and compare them to polls taken in a completely different way, you have to look beyond that at other reasons which make less ‘scientific’ sense and a lot more political sense.

I knew the answer to why they were saying the moment I heard the woman on CNN start saying that more Republicans watched and were asked. LOL! Now you know how we feel about every other non-ORC CNN poll!! Yet, they were being misled by CNN because the last debate had the exact same sampling of Republicans. So it seems to me that it was being said to make viewers feel more energized about Obama than they felt after the first debate.

The second thing that was different in the reporting of the debate poll data was in terms of mentioning the margin of error. Over and over and over after the first debate numbers they mentioned the 4.5% margin of error, and I thought nothing of it because I -expect- the margin of error to be reported (again, I’m an accounting and programming geek, I look at numbers). What surprised me was that after the second debate, as close to the margin of error as it was, they didn’t report the numbers in the same way. Wolf would say the numbers, then go into the disclaimer routine, but nothing about the margin of error. I find that amusing since the margin is much more relevant in a closer result race (like debate two) than it was for the first one.

I swear, this media bias drives me up a wall. I don’t have a problem with opinion commentary, I think it’s very fun and important but… for real news I don’t want to know immediately what side someone is rooting for. The more in bed the media gets with the left, the more they unintentionally are acting like a government run ‘news’ agency.

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