Alternate title: "Surprise (Not): Barone Exposes How Exit Poll Samples Are Typically Biased."
Early this morning, at the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone casually put out what is apparently a well-known fact in polling circles. I'm thinking that it's not at all well-known to the general public (bold is mine):
In perhaps an awkward moment for CNN, contributor Roland Martin was dismissing the credibility of information that the network later reported during Tuesday night's election coverage. Martin tweeted his ire at misleading Wisconsin exit polls.
"Why are Obama supporters touting exit polls saying Obama preferred over Romney 53-42? Same exits had this race 50-50. IGNORE THOSE POLLS!" Martin ranted on Twitter at 9:21 p.m. Ironically, the next hour CNN reported the Wisconsin exit polls showing President Obama ahead of Romney 53-42.
The Big Three networks certainly have their priorities straight. ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning shows on Wednesday dedicated more time to entertainment news than the results of the Wisconsin recall election. On CBS This Morning, Disney's new ban on junk food ads from its kids programming received a minute and a half more than the political story. The same gap occurred on ABC's Good Morning America, but instead of junk food, the Miss USA pageant got the extra time.
NBC's Today, however, one-upped its competitors, as they devoted over six minutes to former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus getting engaged, while Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory received under four and a half minutes. Today also spent over five minutes on the Miss USA story.
Searching for an excuse to explain what went wrong for Democrats in Wisconsin, the broadcast networks blamed "a record-shattering $64 million poured into" the recall election by "conservative out-of-state groups" supporting Republican Governor Scott Walker.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, correspondent Bill Plante promoted Obama campaign talking points on the major Democratic loss: "...what it called the 'massive spending gap'. Governor Walker's supporters raised $31 million to $4 million for the challenger, Tom Barrett....with most of that money coming from out of state – a huge chunk of it from the super-PACs." On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds proclaimed: "Their efforts resulted in an avalanche of ads attacking Walker's Democratic opponent..."
While confessing Democrats and unions were dealt a "painful blow" Tuesday night as Republican Gov. Scott Walker handily beat Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin recall election, Wednesday's lead story by Monica Davey and Jeff Zeleny opened with the liberal argument that Walker was to blame for undermining the "civility" of the state's progressive politics by engaging in his successful reform of public sector unions. (The online headline, "Walker Survives Wisconsin Recall Effort," is a slightly churlish acknowledgement of Walker's convincing win of 53%-46%.)
Gov. Scott Walker, whose decision to cut collective bargaining rights for most public workers set off a firestorm in a state usually known for its political civility, easily held on to his job on Tuesday, becoming the first governor in the country to survive a recall election and dealing a painful blow to Democrats and labor unions.
Politico's Glenn Thrush insists that there's "Only one takeaway from Wisconsin: Money shouts." "Cash doesn't talk in 2012, it shouts, and Wisconsin was a sonic boom that's breaking glass in Chicago," Thrush groused, adding that "Conservative groups outspent unions and progs in Wisconsin by an estimated SEVEN-TO-ONE."
Although it's a predictable left-leaning take on yesterday's results, it's incredibly insulting to Badger State voters, not to mention completely illogical in light of exit polling data.
To be fair, Yahoo News's main home page has a headlined item called "What Scott Walker can teach Barack Obama," a later reference to the slapping of Tom Barrett by a "supporter" for supposedly conceding too early, and the Politics mini-section of the home page lists three Wisconsin-related stories.
But Yahoo News's U.S. home page (screen grabs here and here) as of 11 a.m. ET was a Wisconsin-free, Walker-free zone. And it's not like the page is devoid of political items, such as the following, plus a "most popular" item I'll reveal at the end which seems like a plant:
I noticed at lunch on Tuesday while reading the handy Washington Post commuter tabloid called "Express" that Scott Bauer at Associated Press actually wrote this sentence: "A Marquette University Law School poll released last week showed Walker with a narrow 7-percentage point lead over Barrett, 52 percent to 45 percent." That looks like a pretty accurate poll.
Is this what the 2008 race was for Obama, a "narrow 7-percentage point lead" over McCain? Is that what AP will write if Obama is leading in October by seven points? This wasn't even the only time Scott Bauer used that ludicrous passage. Let's go back to last Thursday, from the same song sheet:
It was another embarrassing election night for the mainstream media that once again badly misinterpreted exit polls.
Standing above the chaos was the Drudge Report which at 5:44 PM correctly announced to the world, "EXIT POLLS SHOW WALKER HOLDING SEAT":
During the special 11:00 p.m. edition of The Ed Show on Tuesday, MSNBC host Ed Schultz fretted about what he viewed as "pretty damn scary stuff" that he believed Republicans would do in following Governor Scott Walkers example in pushing a conservative agenda in Wisconsin.
A bit later, during an interview with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, he asserted that conservatives are trying to "destroy and defund public education," which he claimed was "hurting the minority communities."
Tuesday night's edition of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News featured one of the latest videos from Dan Joseph of MRCTV from the streets of Madison. Joseph tried to interview an angry aging hippie as he held up leftist signs, including one with Gov. Scott Walker's face in a pile of elephant dung.
Joseph turned to a group of middle-school-aged children who said the protester was scary. O'Reilly said "Those kids are getting quite a political education." O'Reilly also featured what a generous person might call the "soul stylings" of liberal Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee as she tried to sing "Hit the Road, Scott."
As of 11:15 p.m., with about 74% of the votes counted, Wisconsin Governor Scott was ahead of Scott Barrett by roughly a 56-44 margin. Late-arriving votes from Democrat-heavy areas of Milwaukee and Dane Counties seemed likely to narrow the margin to perhaps 10 points. (UPDATE: Because heavier margins of support for Barrett in those two counties, the final margin was 6.9%, roughly the same as Barack Obama's 7.4% margin in 2008, which was never labeled a "survival" or "narrow" or anything similar.)