In a breathtaking display of journalistic and polling malpractice, CBS News tonight released a poll that substantially reversed its unweighted findings which showed an all-around collapse of Democratic poll ratings by manipulating the actual findings of its poll. Amazingly, even with this untoward, obvious manipulation of the data obtained by the CBS News pollsters, the poll still showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 11% favorability/37% unfavorability [-26%], while Senate Leader Harry Reid clocked in at 8%/23% [-15%] and President Barack Obama at 49% approval/41% disapproval [+8%]. Here is the evidence of CBS News’s unforgivable manipulation of its polling data, with the unweighted numbers on the left and the “weighted” numbers on the right:
Total Respondents 1059 1059
Total Republicans 272 [25.7%] 235 [-37, now 22.2%]
Total Democrats 355 [33.5%] 396 [+41, now 37.4%]
Total Independents 432 [40.8%] 428 [-4, now 40.4%]
Incredibly, and in what must be the intentional placing of a thumb on the scales to avoid a shocking embarrassment of its favored President and Democratic Party, CBS News took its unweighted polling sample that had an 8% partisan ID edge for Democrats (which is a realistic finding compared to other polling, see below) and then “weighted” their data to show a completely fraudulent and unrealistic 15% partisan ID edge for Democratic voters over Republican ones – adding 7.4% to the partisan ID edge for Democratic voters. Keep in mind that President Obama, at a time of record turnout for the Democratic base, a depressed GOP base and with independents breaking Obama’s way by double digits, won the 2008 election by only 7%. Yet CBS is claiming tonight that the Democrats own a full 15.2% partisan ID edge over the Republicans amongst the American people, despite the indisputable slide in Obama’s popularity, as well as that of his party, since that historic election night.
No one in the polling community, other than CBS News, deigns to claim that this 15.2% partisan edge anything other than fantasy – even senior Democratic strategist James Carville’s left wing Democracy Corps polling shows only a 7% partisan ID edge for Democratic voters [38%-31%], while NBC/WSJ shows 9% partisan ID edge for Democratic voters [32%-23%] and Fox News’s polling shows just a 3% partisan ID edge for Democratic voters [40%-37%]. Based on those three, well-respected pollsters, CBS News’s unweighted data showing a 7.8% partisan ID edge for Democratic voters [33.5%-25.7%] appears to be a reasonable sample of the actual electorate in America. For reasons known only to CBS News, they then decided to take that representative sample of the electorate and stand it on its head by essentially padding all the numbers in their polling by 7.4% in favor of President Obama and the Democratic Party by creating a fantasy-land 15.2% partisan ID edge for Democrats.
By doing this, CBS News was able to make the ridiculous claim that President Obama’s approval on the specific issue of health care is rising now:
Overall, Americans are critical of the President’s handling of health care, but his approval rating on this issue has risen in the last month. Now, 41% approve, up from 35% in February; but still more, 51%, disapprove. More people have disapproved than approved of the President’s handling of health care since November.
As shown above, CBS News claims that President Obama’s approval on health care policy has “risen” by 6% from 35% to 41% – yet their manipulation of the polling data via “weighting” actually shifted the numbers by 7.4% in President Obama’s favor, more than the alleged rise in President Obama’s health care approval. Regarding Obama’s overall approval, CBS News again claims that Obama is “up” from last month:
Americans’ rating of the overall job President Obama is up slightly from last month: 49% now approve, compared to 46% last month. President Obama’s approval rating has hovered at or slightly below 50% since December.
The 3% rise in Obama’s overall approval crowed about by CBS News, from 46% last month to 49% now, is also fully eviscerated by the intentional manipulation of the polling data engaged in by CBS News by “weighting” the partisan ID advantage to increase the Democratic advantage by 7.4%, from the unweighted 7.8% to the weighted 15.2%. Taking the unweighted data, President Obama actually lost a few points in approval this month, continuing his downward trend into the low to mid 40% range. By adding 7.4% to the partisan ID edge for Democrats, CBS News was able to obfuscate this continuing decline and actually claim that Obama’s approval was on the way “up”.
On the issue of health care reform, even with the manipulation of its data, CBS News reported that Americans oppose Obamacare by an 11 point margin, 37%-48%:
As the health care bill headed to its Sunday night vote in the House of Representatives, nearly half of Americans said they disapproved of it, while 37% approved. Among those opposed to the bill, a third strongly disapproved.
Of course, the results would look much worse if it were not for the addition of 7.4% to the Democratic partisan ID edge by CBS News’s disgraceful manipulation of its own polling data.
One possible explanation for this disgraceful behavior by the allegedly neutral CBS News is the access being provided to CBS News, and specifically to CBS anchor Katie Couric, by the leaders of the Democratic Party. Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, gave an exclusive interview to Couric over the weekend – a much sought-after interview that certainly helped CBS’s ratings. Trading access to prominent Democrats for intentional manipulation of polling data, as appears to be the case here, is serious journalistic malpractice and all objective, independent observers of American politics must immediately condemn CBS’s behavior.
One could possibly expect an avowed partisan like James Carville to engage in such misrepresentations of polling data, however, it is the allegedly neutral CBS News who has disgraced itself with its undeniable, and unforgivable, manipulation of its polling data. CBS News is trusted by millions of Americans to be an objective, neutral source for both the news of the day and polling data, and this disgraceful manipulation of its polling data, in exchange for exclusive access to Democratic leaders, surely undercuts any confidence Americans may have that CBS News is actually an objective source of information. The fact that the duty to expose CBS’s journalistic malpractice falls to a tiny centrist blog like this one is a sad commentary on the state of the American media today. Centrist and independent Americans can only hope that the rest of the establishment media investigates this undeniable manipulation of polling data by CBS News to determine if CBS did indeed rig its poll for access to White House officials.
UPDATE: CNN’s release of polling, over the same period as the CBS News sample, showing President Obama at 46%/51% approval conclusively proves that CBS News is guilty of intentional manipulation of its polling data to distort the actual preferences of the American electorate at this time. Such behavior by CBS News calls into question its status as a news organization at all. CNN’s polling:
For the first time, a CNN poll has found that a majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday, 51 percent of respondents disapprove of Obama’s job performance and 46 percent approve of it…
Obama’s approval rating has dropped steadily each month since December, when it was 54 percent. His highest approval rating in a CNN poll was 76 percent in February 2009 shortly after he took office.