Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Send down another case of aluminum foil

And what sorts of tales do you suppose they're telling each other down in the Breitbart bunker these days?

Why spend all the money to conduct a poll if you're not going to report the results?

That's certainly an interesting question! Did you have anything specific in mind?

Oh, maybe this is why:

[A]ccording to polling by CNN, registered voters oppose Obamacare by a margin of 10 points — 52 to 42 percent.  Independents like Obamacare even less, opposing it by a margin of 22 points — 57 to 35 percent.  Clearly, voters didn’t think they were ratifying Obamacare when they pulled the lever for Obama.
Gee, ya think maybe if those numbers were reversed we'd be hearing more about them?

Rhetorical question.

Well -- no. Stupid question, sure.* Maybe we'd be hearing more about those numbers if the results of this survey (in the field Nov. 16-18) weren't effectively identical to results from the same survey in May and March of this year. Or maybe we're already bored with long-term comparisons, in that the favor-oppose gap is consistently much smaller in 2012 than at comparable points in 2011.**

And where did all those pesky numbers come from? Um, from the 26-page pdf of results that CNN posted along with the story it ran last Monday about its "own Obamacare*** poll."

I do think we passed a bit of a turning point in late summer, when it became acceptable in the mainstream of political discourse to simply declare that any empirical result you disliked was probably brought about by cheating. There's a certain brazenness to this sort of lie that goes beyond that. No one should be surprised when the Breitbart folks set new standards for no-purchase-necessary mendacity, but journalists should be reminded that we don't owe these folks a respectful hearing. One looks forward to the app that mimics a telephone being slammed down in its cradle.

* Though unlike the first, it isn't a multiple or begged question.
** Not significant at 95% confidence, but big enough to take to the track.
*** To the extent it was an "Obamacare poll"; you could as easily call it a "Susan Rice poll" or a "Mitt Romney poll" or a "direction of the country poll."

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