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Obama’s Media Metrics Mulligan – Should Polls Be Adjusted for Racial Bias?


We know, through repeated polling, that about 50% of the country, the paler 50%, believes that President Barack Obama is an “other,” a Kenyan, Socialist, a Kenyan Socialist, and all of the other flavors of racist fear and hate floating around out there.

So if you’re a polling group like Quinnipiac, which was one of the first organizations to discover that huge body of white racism dubbed “birthers” over and over in its polling on the subject, should they not take that immovable hardcore viewpoint into account in their polling data on questions of Mr. Obama’s integrity and “trustworthiness”? When polling, organizations should really give the President a big mulligan on the haters.

CNN runs one of these “He’s not trustworthy” Quinnipiac polls about every two weeks to attract viewers over from Fox’s hyperbolic echo chamber. CNN and other media outlets play a game to pander to that large fear-driven audience because they’re prime-time consumers of news, soap, and pretty much anything else that preys on their anxieties about everything from the black couple moving into the house next door to how white their white teeth are.

The Quinnipiac poll’s results are a complete non-story when you do the basic math.

News panderers shout to the rafters about the “drop” to a low, low 39% of those who find the president trustworthy.

First, these “dramatic” ratings drops, worthy of so much ink and verbal hand-wringing are over a measly 2.1% to 5.9% approval swing, when you take the margin of error into consideration.


“From November 6 – 11, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,545 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones. ” [1]

The ACA website is one of the most brutal post-Great Recession media assaults that Mr. Obama has seen in his presidency, yet the margin of error could mean that as many as 5.9%, or as little as 2.1%, of Americans think he’s less trustworthy than over the prior survey period.   Without correcting for the bias, that’s a statistical yawn.

Next, knock down the 50% of Americans who are just plain Obama haters.  Pollsters can just invoke the Birther question:  “Do you believe that the President of the United States is an alien”  before the others in the poll, and eliminate that group that will never, never have a positive viewpoint of the President because of their racial bias.

As a total guesstimate, a worst-case scenario, a bias-free survey then might show that 20-22% don’t trust the president on grounds other than the color of his skin.

With a racial bias eliminated, Mr. Obama’s net polling numbers then are actually positive, even with the current turmoil over the ACA. With 39% favorable and a 7% neutral number, 46% of the country does not have a negative view, while somewhere between 7% and 22% of non-racist Obama detractors without racial bias would be on that side of the argument.

A 4% spike in Mr. Obama’s trustworthiness is a complete and total FAIL by the Far Right to do much to damage to the President. The polls as they are today have those people who already hate the President “baked in” to that 50% leaving just 4% affected by the latest fear mongering ratcheted up by the mainstream media machine. 

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.  The media is far less excited to report the 360,000 people who did sign up, website problems and all, because the fear spin sells soap, not telling truths that dilute the paranoid power of that narrative.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

2 comments on “Obama’s Media Metrics Mulligan – Should Polls Be Adjusted for Racial Bias?

  1. Will
    November 16, 2013

    You’re so right, we should eliminate anyone that may generate a negative bias on the poll, before we give them the poll. Get fucking real, man, shit like this is the exact reason we’re in this mess.

    • Brian Ross
      November 24, 2013

      This is “fucking real.” Predictable constant outliers are often shed off of polling data because they provide no useful information. If your purpose is to gauge a change in public sentiment, sentiment that does not change needs no measurement. You only concentrate on where the needle moves up and down.

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