Despite his scientific approach to polling the broadcast news media chooses to take poll results out of context as if they are just another sound byte. Ask yourself if the following two statements mean the same to you.
Ohio -- Kerry leads Bush by 51% to 45% among likely voters in a two-way contest, and by 48% to 43% in a three-way matchup that includes independent Ralph Nader.
Ohio -- In a survey of 636 likely voters Kerry leads Bush by 51% to 45% voters in a two-way contest, and by 48% to 43% in a three-way matchup that includes independent Ralph Nader.
Obviously most Americans would draw a different conclussion from the second statement. Why then does the broadcast media omit the sample size number. Why is it so harmful? I have tried to get a response from media outlets like CNN to no avail. The danger I see is the tendency of people to back the perception of a winner. Yes polls are scientific but their results just like any product you buy at a store have to be placed in context. People should use poll results as a cue to evaluate their own thinking on a candidate or topic. The way that broadcast media uses the polls todays could easily lead to a rubberstamping of candidates or issues by millions of Americans based on the trends seen in a small group. Do we really want that kind of process for America? What do you think?