Bloomberg News misrepresents its own Obama/BP polling results

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

As Josh Nelson at EnviroKnow has pointed out (as has blogger Kevin Drum), Bloomberg's polling division asked Americans one questions about off-shore drilling, but then Blooomberg News wrote up the results based on a different question being asked.

Here's the question Bloomberg asked [emphasis added]:

Do you think the spill proves off-shore drilling is just too dangerous and should be banned in U.S. waters, or was this a freak accident and off-shore drilling can be safe and should not be banned?

By an overwhelming majority, those polled told Bloomberg that off-shore-drilling should not be banned.

Now look at the Bloomberg News lede [emphasis]:

Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama's ban on deepwater oil drilling in response to BP Plc's Gulf of Mexico spill, even as they hold the company primarily responsible for the incident.

Almost three-fourths, or 73 percent, say a ban is unnecessary, calling the worst oil spill in U.S. history a "freak accident," according to a Bloomberg National Poll.

See the problem? The Bloomberg poll asked a very generic question about banning "off-shore drilling," but then the article makes reference to "Barack Obama's ban on deepwater oil drilling." That's not what the poll question asked, though. Meaning, Obama has in place a specific six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling of 1,000 feet or more in the outer continental shelf. That in no way is reflected in a question that asks whether all "off-shore drilling" should be permanently banned.

Bloomberg's polling question was about X, and then Bloomberg News announced it was about Y, and attached Obama's name to it.

There's an apples-and-oranges problem here that Bloomberg News ought to acknowledge and correct.

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