Sunday, September 28, 2008

Post-debate snap polls: mostly for spinners’s Tom Bevan reminds us post-debate snap polls are “notoriously subjective.”

Unless such polls are all or mostly all showing blowout numbers for one candidate, I’m not sure how helpful they are except for those looking to “spin the debate.”

We see that when we take a closer look at a CBS post-debate poll about which the network reports:

Immediately after the debate, CBS News interviewed a nationally representative sample of nearly 500 debate watchers assembled by Knowledge Networks who were "uncommitted voters" - voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds. Thirty-nine percent of these uncommitted debate watchers said Obama won the debate. Twenty-four percent said McCain won, and another 37 percent thought it was a tie.
How do you interpret those results?

They come from “nearly 500 debate watchers” we’re told are “uncommitted voters" who are “undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds.”

Pre-debate, what percentages of those who “could still change their minds” favored McCain and Obama?

That question's critical in order to determine whether CBS's "uncommitted" sample was skewed in favor of one or the other candidate.

But CBS doesn't answer that question or many other important ones a fair-minded person would want to know.

How did Knowledge Network screen out false “uncommitteds?” There are people who’ll say whatever to be on or off a jury and in or out of a debate snap poll respondent pool. Some people strongly committed to a candidate would like a chance to be part of an "uncommitted" voter poll and thereby help spin the results in their candidate's favor.

CBS and Knowledge Networks don’t say what they mean by “nationally representative sample.”

Was their sample representative of the voting age population as a whole or only registered voters or just “likely” voters?

Was it representative by age, gender, income, formal education level, ethnicity and race?

Given reports of intense support at levels of 95% or higher among blacks for Sen. Obama, it would have been an extremely sensitive and time consuming screening process for CBS and Knowledge Networks to identify about 75 African-American "uncommitted voters." ( 75 is about 15% of the “nearly 500 debate watchers;" I choose 15%as a reasonable estimate of the percentage of voters in the Nov. election who'll be African-Americans.)

Was such a screening process undertaken to assure there wasn't a pro-Obama skew among the respondents?

Again, we're not told, but we certainly should have been.

There are many other questions that can be raised about the CBS poll.

But let’s move on to Noah Pollak’s post at Commentary. It provides an example of a network spinning its own snap poll. I add a few comments below the star line, including the results of one post-debate poll Obama's MSM Tank Corps' ignoring.

CNN’s Poll vs. CNN’s Spin

Noah Pollak - 09.27.2008 - 9:01 AM

CNN’s poll of debate viewers blares a puzzling headline: “Round 1 in debate goes to Obama, poll says.”

But the poll itself actually doesn’t say that. This is blatant editorializing on the part of CNN. The first problem is the numbers:

Fifty-one percent of those polled thought Obama did the better job in Friday night’s debate, while 38 percent said John McCain did better.

Buried way, way down at the bottom of the story — hopefully, one surmises, past the point where anyone would read — is the following:

The results may be favoring Obama simply because more Democrats than Republicans tuned in to the debate. Of the debate-watchers questioned in this poll, 41 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 30 percent as independents.

I’m far from being a polling expert, but this is obviously a slanted poll. A 14-point split between Republican and Democrat respondents? And what percentage of those “independents” were leaners for Obama?

That’s bad enough, but the really egregious part is CNN’s blatant reportage of opinion as fact, which allowed the creation of a news story announcing Obama’s victory.

“It can be reasonably concluded, especially after accounting for the slight Democratic bias in the survey, that we witnessed a tie in Mississippi tonight,” CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib said. “But given the direction of the campaign over the last couple of weeks, a tie translates to a win for Obama.”

Oh, so actually the debate was a tie. But according to somebody named Alan Silverleib, a tie means a win for Obama — ergo: “Round 1 in debates goes to Obama, poll says.”

But even CNN’s “Senior Political Researcher” says that the poll didn’t say that!

The headline should have been written, “Round 1 in debates goes to Obama, Silverleib says.”

And now we can write: Round 1 in the contest to see who’s most in the tank for Obama goes to CNN.



Pollak has a great post! He really caught CNN spinning their own poll and "put the lights" on the Obama tankers there.

Going around the Net today it's been interesting to see how many Obama Tank Corps MSMers are spinning the CBS and CNN polls which have small samples and are hardly reliable while at the same time they totally ignore a non-scientific poll at Drudge which has some reliability and validity because of its high number of respondents and the blowout lead of one of last night's debaters.

Here are the Drudge results as of 4 PM ET Saturday, Sept. 27:



68% 252,792

30% 111,569

2% 9,330

Total Votes: 373,691