Fox News is attempting to downplay and discredit its own poll, which found that if the election were held today, voters would re-elect President Obama by a 7-point margin. This is hardly the first time Fox has tried to distort poll findings to advance a certain narrative.
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Fox News Poll: If Election Were Held Today, Obama Would Win Re-Election
Fox News Poll Found That Registered Voters Would Vote For Obama Over Romney If Election Were Held Today. In a Fox News poll conducted May 13-15, 46 percent of registered voters said they would vote for Obama, as opposed to 39 percent who would favor Romney:
[Fox News, 5/16/12]
Fox News' Response: Question Poll's Findings
Fox & Friends Co-Hosts Dismissed Poll, Pointed To Independents' Importance, And Challenged Methodology. Discussing the Fox poll on Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson dismissed the findings, emphasizing that independents "decide every election." Co-host Brian Kilmeade went on to challenge the poll's methodology:
CARLSON: Well, let's look at independents, because in the end, they decide every election. So the independents now for Mitt Romney compared to April have also gone down by 12 points, 46 percent to 34. Barack Obama, though, has gone down, too, from 33 percent to 29 percent. So one third of all independents are still undecided. So it appears that there's a lot of work to be done with both campaigns on trying to lure in the independents right now.
KILMEADE: I mean, this seems like a small poll, and these are registered voters, which a lot of the experts say you got to factor that in. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/17/12]
Dick Morris: "If You Want To Know How The Election's Going To Come Out, Don't Pay Attention To" Fox Poll. After discussing a Rasmussen poll that found Obama trailing Romney in North Carolina, Fox News contributor Dick Morris criticized the poll's methodology and questioned its findings:
MORRIS: Well, I don't mean to accuse Fox News of Democratic bias, but -- liberal bias -- but I do want to point that it generally doesn't make sense to do a survey where 40 percent of the people you're interviewing are not gonna vote.
BILL O'REILLY (host): Forty percent of registered voters didn't show up last time, right?
O'REILLY: But, the mood of the country is what the Fox News poll wanted to gauge.
MORRIS: Look, there is a real purpose to surveying adults [unintelligible] among registered voters -- they all live here and they pay taxes.
O'REILLY: Yeah, I mean, this basically shows that Obama has some strength.
MORRIS: But if you want to know how the election's going to come out, don't pay attention to that. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/16/12]
Fox News' Response: Draw Own Conclusion From Findings
Bill Hemmer: "You Can Find Good News For Mitt Romney In This Polling, Depending On What Number You're Looking At." On America's Newsroom, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer downplayed the findings and pointed to numbers in the poll that seemed to favor Romney over Obama. Contributor and Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen Hayes discounted the poll's importance, saying the state of the economy will be "the single best determinant of who's going to win":
BILL HEMMER (co-host): I think you can find good news for the president in our polling. And I think you can find good news for Mitt Romney in this polling, depending on what number you're looking at. This number is difficult to overcome: Economic conditions, are they fair or poor? 88 percent say yes. When you're an incumbent, how do you argue against that?
HAYES: That is -- that is the difficult number for the White House. I mean, that's got to be an alarming number for the White House. And again, it's consistent with what we've seen when pollsters ask, Is the country on the right track? Is the country on the wrong track? The right track, wrong track numbers, many pollsters will tell you are the single best determinant of who's going to win the election ultimately in November, and the more people say that we're on the wrong track, the worse it is. And when you have people, 88 percent of people asked, saying the economy is only fair or poor, that's not the track that the country wants to be on. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/17/12]
Jon Scott Pointed To Margin Of Error And Claimed: "Effectively, They're Still Tied." Anchor Jon Scott stated:
SCOTT: First, if the election were held today, President Obama would enjoy a 7 percent advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Governor Mitt Romney. Three weeks ago, the candidates were tied at 46 percent each in this same poll. But on the all-important issue of the economy, 45 percent of voters think conditions are worse than they were in 2008. 28 percent think they are better.
SCOTT: We should note that that poll has a plus or minus 3 percent margin of error. So, ah, effectively they are still tied.[Fox News, Happening Now, 5/17/12]
Happening Now: "If Starting A Small Business, Who Would You Pick As Your Business Partner?" Discussing the poll, Happening Now sought to downplay the poll's findings by highlighting this question: "If starting a small business, who would you pick as your business partner?"
[Fox News, Happening Now, 5/17/12]
Fox News' Response: Highlight Polls Favorable To Romney
Dick Morris: "I Did A Poll" That Has Obama Trailing Romney. Morris dismissed the Fox poll by pointing to a poll he conducted with likely voters, which he claimed is a better determinant of election outcomes:
MORRIS: I did a poll -- 6,000 interviews with likely voters from May 5th to May 11th, and margin of error less than half of 1 percent. Every one of them a likely voter. I have Obama behind Romney 52 to 42. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/16/12]
Megyn Kelly Pointed To Poll That "Is Raising Red Flags For The President's Re-Election Chances." HostMegyn Kelly opened her show by citing a Gallup poll that she claimed "is raising red flags for the President's re-election chances," saying that the "poll finds only about a quarter of the country is satisfied with the direction of the country." She added: "A lot of folks who know about polls tell you that's the number you really need to watch, satisfied or not with the direction of the country." Kelly later dismissed the Fox poll by pointing to data from Real Clear Politics and said, "That's what we care about":
KELLY: In the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, the President is ahead of Romney by two and a half points. So that's a close race right now. But you say, look, that's well and good, it's going to come down to swing states. That's what we care about: The polling in these critical nine states -- these swing states. And that's what the White House and probably the Romney campaign are tracking closer than anything. [Fox News, America Live, 5/17/12]
Lou Dobbs: "A Brand New" Poll Shows Romney With "A Three Point Lead On The President." Fox Business Anchor Lou Dobbs chose to report instead on a Mason-Dixon Poll that favored Romney:
DOBBS: A brand new Mason-Dixon national poll has Governor Romney opening up a three-point lead on the president. Among independents, Governor Romney's lead extends to six points. The latest evidence of a tightening race apparently has the Obama campaign team a little on edge. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/17/12]
Fox News Has A History Of Manipulating Poll Results To Conform To Certain Narrative
Fox Called Polls Showing More Favorable Results For Romney "Pretty Significant." Fox & Friends co-hosts pointed to two polls showing Romney leading Obama, describing the results as "pretty significant" and evidence that "Mitt Romney's popularity is surging." None of the co-hosts quibbled over whether the polls were conducted among likely or registered voters, and no one factored in its sampling size or margin of error. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/17/12 via Media Matters]
Bret Baier Misrepresented Poll On Gas Prices To Make It More Critical Of Obama. Special Report anchor Bret Baier claimed that a Fox News poll showed that a "majority" of Americans say Obama "is to blame for gas prices," which is in line with Fox's false messaging that the Obama administration was responsible for an increase in gas prices. In fact, the poll found that a majority said Obama is not to blame. Baier later pointed out the error and apologized. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 3/16/12 via Media Matters]
Fox Favored Poll Finding Opposition To Contraception Rule, While Ignoring Other Polls That Found The Opposite. Fox repeatedly touted a Rasmussen poll that found that 50 percent of respondents do not believe contraception costs should be covered under the Affordable Care Act, while ignoring two other polls that contradicted the Rasmussen poll's findings. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/09/12 via Media Matters]
Eric Bolling Cherry-Picked Poll To Distort Public Support For Gun Control. Host Eric Bolling highlighted a poll finding that "a record low number of people" support gun control laws. In fact, the poll pointed to robust public support for either maintaining or strengthening current gun violence prevention laws. [Fox News, The Five, 11/27/11]
Fox Treats Magazine's Interviews Of Protesters As A Real Poll. Fox News attacked the Occupy Wall Street protesters by seizing upon a "poll" conducted by New York magazine, painting them as far out of the mainstream. But Fox misrepresented the "poll," whose statistics only applied to the 100 protesters "who are in it for the long haul" that the magazine interviewed. It was not a truly random sample of the larger population of protesters. [Media Matters, 11/14/11]