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May 05, 2008

To Gauge Effect of Wright on Obama, the NYT Canvasses the Only People Who Matter -- Upper Class Liberals In Coffee Shops and... Gourmet Dog Biscuit Stores

This story is a tad old by now, but Kaus is worth reading on the point:

A staple of cocooning journalism is the quickie poll showing that "Voters Say They Aren't Troubled by X," with X being an issue the polltakers don't want voters to be troubled by.

...if only 10% of voters say they will vote against a candidate because of X--while fully 90% of the voters say they are untroubled--that means the candidate has been badly damaged by X. In most races a candidate can't afford to lose 10% of the vote on a single issue. ... In today's story, of course, the Times strikes a blow for transparency and cost-efficiency, dispensing with the expensive, scientific-sounding claptrap of polling and cutting right to the soothing BS, interviewing a handful of upscale Indianapolis shoppers who duly deny they would be influenced by the Wright flap (but who knows what those "less cosmopolitan" Hoosiers down South will do).

The cocooning continues, this time with an actual poll -- a poll of a whole 283 Democrats.

At least 21% of that inadequate sample say they view Obama less favorably now, but the Times headline of course accentuates the positive -- hey, most Democrats aren't bothered! And who cares about that racist one-fifth of the base, anyway?

Has Pinch Sulzberger's visionary leadership so depleted the Times' resources that it can't even afford to take a decent poll? If so, should the paper still run this iffy self-generated news on the front page?

USA Today meanwhile polls 516 and gives a headline that accurately reflects the data -- Obama was damaged by Wright.


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posted by Ace at 08:54 PM

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