"Fair and balanced" polls

Published June 25, 2004 5:52PM (EDT)

A new Fox News survey manages to contradict most of the mainstream polling data out there on the presidential horse race. It gives President Bush a 7-point lead nationally in a three-way race against John Kerry and Ralph Nader. In a two-way race, Bush's lead slims to 6 percent. You can read it all in this article from Fox News' Web site. Compare that to yesterday's CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken at almost exactly the same time, which shows the three-way race to be in a statistical dead heat.

Fox's poll numbers are equally contrary when it comes to swing states. According to the Fox poll, in a two-way race, the president would carry Pennsylvania 47 percent to 44 percent. But according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, also released yesterday, in a two-way race, Kerry would take the state by a comfortable 6-point margin. Fox's survey also showed Bush winning a three way race in Ohio with 45 percent to Kerry's 41 percent and Nader's 4 percent. The latest American Research Group poll, taken at the same time, however, gives Kerry 49 percent, Bush 43 percent and Nader 2 percent. Is Fox just reporting for us to decide? Perhaps -- poll numbers fluctuate all the time -- but polls are so easy to manipulate, it makes you wonder how Rupert Murdoch's "fair and balanced" news channel came up with these numbers.

By Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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