Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Response from Comcast
By Cliff Kincaid
In a story about how George Bush, not John Kerry, got a “bounce” from coverage of the Democratic National convention, Susan Page disclosed something significant about a poll done on the matter. She revealed, “Because the results were a surprise, USA TODAY extended the survey an additional night, to Sunday, to create a larger and more reliable sample.” In other words, because the media feared the results would undermine Kerry, they did their best to find more people for their “survey” who would validate the media’s assumption that Kerry would get the bounce. But it was not to be. They couldn’t find those Kerry supporters.
Despite the blatant manipulation of the polling data, Bush came out the winner. But the admission by Page demonstrates how these polls could possibly be rigged to produce the desired result. It shows that when there is a “surprise” in the polling data, the pollsters always have the option of extending the survey by polling more people over a longer period of time to produce different results.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed the Kerry/Edwards ticket trailing Bush/Cheney 50% to 46% among likely voters, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 2%. "Before the convention," USA Today reported, "the two were essentially tied, with Kerry at 47%, Bush at 46%." In her original story about the poll, Susan Page did not disclose that the survey was extended because the results were a “surprise” to those expecting a bounce for Kerry. Instead, she said that, “USA Today extended its survey to Sunday to get a fuller picture of what's happening.” By using the phrase, “a fuller picture of what’s happening,” Page made the exercise seem scientific. Among those predicting a Kerry bounce were NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who said there would be a 5-7 or 8 point bounce out of the convention for Kerry. Howard Fineman of Newsweek predicted "about 5" points for Kerry.