Why Poll Results Don’t Get Reported Accurately
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Regardless of one’s point of view on an issue, you can usually find a poll that shows that a majority of people agree with you.
I’d suggest that is exactly what we saw happen on CNN Wednesday, when anchor Alisyn Camerota interviewed Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., about the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood.
A May 2015 Gallup poll asked, “Should abortion be legal?” Here’s how the numbers broke down:
Twenty-nine percent said abortion should be legal under any circumstances.
Fifty-one percent said abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances.
Nineteen percent said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
Here’s what Camerota said:
“That’s 80 percent of respondents who believe abortion should be kept legal.” (She added together the 29 percent who said abortion should be legal in any circumstance and 51 percent who said it should be allowed only in certain circumstances.)
Here’s what Camerota could have said:
“That’s 70 percent of Americans who believe there should be limits on abortion.” (Adding together the 51 percent who said it should be legal only in certain circumstances and the 19 percent who said it should not be legal under any circumstances.)
Those who identify as pro-choice are more inclined to report the poll the way CNN did, and those who identify as pro-life are likely to use the latter number—the point being, in this particular poll and many others, you can “interpret the data” to get the spin you want.
I also found interesting that while CNN chose to show questions from a Monmouth University Poll showing that a majority of respondents favored the use of fetal tissue for research and that 49 percent opposed cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood, they conveniently left out the response to this question:
“Have you seen or heard recent news about videos that supposedly show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of aborted fetus tissue, or not?”
Here were the responses:
Only 27 percent said they had heard a lot.
Only 21 percent said they had heard a little.
But 53 percent of respondents said they had not heard about the story at all.
I wonder how different the other answers in the poll about fetal tissue research and defunding Planned Parenthood would have been if the 74 percent of people who had heard or seen little to nothing had indeed seen the videos.
Of course, as the Media Research Center points out, the death of Cecil the lion has received more than four times the coverage in one week by the network news media than the five undercover videos released over the past three weeks showing Planned Parenthood committing potentially criminal acts.
CNN didn’t mention those numbers, either.
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