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politics

Obama Voters Are Stupid, Zogby Says

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Nov 20th 2008 11:25PM

Filed under: US Elections, Politics, USC, Media

Voted for Obama? Betcha can't name which candidate previously quit a presidential campaign for plagiarizing a speech.

That's just one of twelve questions posed by Zogby International to 500+ Obama voters after the election, in an attempt to prove how little they know. Zogby was paid a "substantial" fee by a man named John Ziegler to conduct the poll, apparently to substantiate Ziegler's Election Day interviews with 12 Obama voters, some of whom didn't know who Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid was, and think the Republicans still control Congress (they don't).

Ziegler then pieced together this delightfully embarrassing segment:



The video is hosted at HowObamaGotElected.com -- another Ziegler creation, which I'm willing to bet was purchased before Election Day -- and helpfully "verified" by Zogby. The implication is that media bias emphasized coverage which was unflattering toward John McCain and Sarah Palin, while downplaying damaging storylines about Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

But why slant a poll and chop together what amounts to mild propaganda in order to prove such an easy assertion?

Zogby saw dollar signs, I'm guessing. His polls this year haven't been too reliable, as information-overload sites like fivethirtyeight.com (the most accurate predictor of this year's results) brought fresh insight to polling methodology. The Zeigler poll's predictable results are red meat for conservatives, and Zogby knew it.

Nate Silver, founder of fivethirtyeight.com, trashes the survey as a "push poll," and while I'm not sure that's the most precise characterization, it is inexcusable that the poll only quizzed Obama voters -- with only a few carefully-handpicked questions -- while claiming to be legitimate.

Both sides have uninformed voters; it's one of the certainties of political elections. By pushing a partisan storyline through such questionable means, however, Ziegler undermines the actual validity of his conclusions. Yes, the media was biased toward Obama:

- The Washington Post: Oops!
- Donations from journalists favored Obama 100-to-1
- Chris Matthews: "My job" is to make Obama presidency work
- Chris Matthews: "I felt this thrill going up my leg"
- Olbermann: "This [speech] ... is not the stuff of fiction. This is the real thing out here."
- MSNBC screenshot: "How many houses does Palin add to the ticket?"
- The New York Times
- Everyone

Why use sleight of hand when the facts work just fine?

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