In presenting the results of a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, CNN.com used a visually distorted graph* that falsely conveyed the impression that Democrats far outnumber Republicans and Independents in thinking the Florida state court was right to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed. In fact, a majority of all three groups agrees with the court's decision, and the gap between Democrats on one hand and Republicans and Independents on the other is within the poll's margin of error.
According to the poll, conducted March 18-20, when asked if they “agree[d] with the court's decision to have the feeding tube removed,” 62 percent of Democratic respondents agreed, compared to 54 percent of Republicans, and 54 percent of Independents. But these results were displayed along a very narrow scale of 10 percentage points, and thus appeared to show a large gap between Democrats and Republicans/Independents:
Laid out in this manner, the graph suggests that the gap between the two groups is overwhelming, rather than only 8 percentage points, within the poll's margin of error of +/- 7 percentage points. Also, this presentation obscures the poll's finding that majorities of all the groups sampled approved of the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube. A more accurate presentation of the poll's findings would have looked like this:
* UPDATE: CNN has updated its graphic after the posting of this item.
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