Why MSNBC doesn't use Rasmussen

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The surveys are beloved by conservatives. Remember how John McCain was in striking distance late last October, according to Rasmussen? And conservatives can always turn to Rasmussen today to find outlier polling data which suggest Barack Obama isn't really that popular. But more and more journalists seem to be concluding that from a public policy perspective, the Rasmussen polls aren't worth much.

Note this exchange on Thursday during an interview MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell did with a conservative Catholic, Patrick Reilly, who appeared to argue against the invitation Notre Dame University extended to Barack Obama, who will speak at the school's commencement this weekend [emphasis added]:

O'DONNELL: Is it possible, given the poll numbers that are out, that show that 60% of Catholics in this country think that President Obama should -- be out there, that your view is a minority view?

REILLY: It's possible. There are a minority of Catholics who are faithful practicing Catholics who attend Mass regularly. However, there are other polls. There was the Rasmussen poll that showed that Catholics, 60% to 25% opposed the honor and the reason is --

O'DONNELL: You know, we don't use the Rasmussen poll at NBC.

REILLY: Well, that's a shame. But the reason is, because they ask the question in the context of explaining to respondents that the bishops had instituted a policy banning this type of honor under that -- in that context.

My hunch is that O'Donnell meant that MSNBC doesn't use Rasmussen polls period, and not just the Rasmussen one regarding the Notre Dame issue. But Rasmussen's Notre Dame survey is a perfect example why conservative love the polling firm. Why? Surprise! Rasmussen, virtually alone, found that Americans do not agree with Notre Dame' invitation to Obama. All the other major polling conducted on the question has found most Americans agree with the commencement speaker choice, but not in Rasmussen's world.

BTW, here was the Rasmussen ND polling question, which reads like it was typed up by the right-wing Cardinal Newman Society itself:

Guidelines established by U.S. bishops state that Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame should not honor people whose actions conflict with the church's moral principles. Given these guidelines, should Notre Dame award President Obama an honorary degree?

Compare that to the more practical question posed by the Pew Forum:

Do you think it was right or wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama to give their graduation speech and receive an honorary degree?

I wouldn't be surprised to see more news outlets adopt MSNBC's rule when it comes to Rasmussen.

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