The AP proves once again that it can take a poll and create any conclusion about the findings that it wants.
So naturally, it was all doom and gloom for recent Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. The headline: "Poll: Early Public Support for Alito Weak." (Via Times Argus.) Adding that "The survey put public sentiment for Alito closer to the level of early backing for the failed nomination of Harriet Miers." Interestingly enough, the AP Could have also run the headline "Early Public Opposition to Alito Weak - Fewer People Opposed to Alito than were opposed to Roberts, Miers." Obviously, the AP did not go that route.
As usual, the poll questions that are reported are often more telling than those that are not. The only results released (the "proof" of weak support):
"About four in 10 respondents 38 percent say they back the confirmation of Alito, a federal appeals court judge from Philadelphia. Twenty-two percent say they strongly support him.
For Roberts, now the chief justice, 47 percent said in July that they supported his confirmation, 36 percent strongly.
Almost two-thirds of evangelicals supported Roberts' confirmation with half strongly backing him. For Alito, about half of evangelicals support his confirmation, one-third strongly. There were similar drops among Republicans and among people who make more than $75,000 a year."
After looking over the actual poll questions, the truth is much less news-worthy, and much less worrisome.
The AP mysteriously ignores the results of people who oppose Alito, instead merely focusing on who currently supports him. We can expect that if there was strong oppostion to Alito, the headlines would have said so.
So the comparative poll results? When asked if Alito should be confirmed, 38% said yes, 22% said no, and 40% were undecided/unsure. The latter two were not mentioned in any reports I saw. While Alito had the smallest initial support between him, Miers, and Roberts, he also had the smallest percent initial opposition to him and the highest "don't know" of the three. Alito's "support" falters for a lack of name recognition. While 40% of people were undecided about Alito, much less people were undecided about Miers (32%) and Roberts (29%).
The fact that less people knew enough about Alito to form an opinion on him, thus effecting both his support and oppostion levels, is not considered. If the AP were not biased, they would have been just as likely to print this headline instead: Opposition to Alito smaller than Opposition to Roberts, Miers. But, it was not.