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Thursday, November 29, 2007
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Poll Methodology
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center in general, and NewsBusters in particular, have been quick to attack the methodology of polls that don't mesh with its conservative viewpoint -- witness last year's attack on a poll showing record-low approval ratings for President Bush as being skewed toward Democratic respondents, ignoring the fact that the Democrat-Republican-independent respondent balance accurately reflected that of the American public. But when a flawed poll generates results conservatives like, not a disparaging word can be heard about it.

NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein has been promoting a new Zogby Interactive poll claiming that Hillary Clinton would lose to all of the leading Republican contenders in a head-to-head matchup. In a Nov. 27 post, Finkelstein even went so far as to contact the Zogby folks to counter an attack on the poll by Hillary adviser Mark Penn; they claimed that Penn's criticism is negated by the fact that Hillary's campaign has used Zogby for private polling. Finkelstein followed up with a Nov. 28 post featuring John Zogby himself defending the poll while dismissing a Gallup poll showing more favorable results for Hillary as having been taken nearly two weeks earlier and "a lot can happen in that time span." At no point did Finkelstein mention any problems with Zogby Interactive polls; in fact, in his Nov. 27 post, he touted that "the margin of error in the current [Zogby] presidential poll is only 1%."

In fact, questions have been raised about the methodology of Zogby's interactive polls. As Media Matters notes, Zogby Interactive respondents have previously self-selected themselves to take part in a poll, which makes it something other than the "random sample" considered to be the most scientific way to conduct a poll. Meanwhile, points out that the Zogby Interactive results are anomalous to every other presidential poll. And the Wall Street Journal previously noted Zogby Interactive's horrible results in 2006.

Will anyone at the MRC note this? Not unless Zogby Interactive comes up with a poll that makes Republicans look bad. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:50 AM EST

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