CNN's Bill Schneider painted misleading picture of Democratic delegates

On July 26, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider used a false and misleading description of recent poll results to portray Democratic convention delegates as more liberal than they really are.

Schneider -- who is also a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) -- falsely claimed, “A liberal consensus prevails among the Democratic delegates in Boston. Three-quarters endorse abortion on demand.” [emphasis Schneider's]

But the on-screen graphic accompanying Schneider's commentary suggested he was off base. The graphic indicated Schneider was basing his comments on a recent CBS News/New York Times survey of delegates, and that 75 percent said abortion should be “generally available” -- not at all the same as available “on demand.”

The actual poll, available on the CBS News website, asked which position “comes closest to your view” :

1. Abortion should be generally available to those who want it.

2. Abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now.

3. Abortion should not be permitted?

Seventy-five percent chose the first option -- but that doesn't come close to meaning 75 percent “endorse abortion on demand.” Two of the three choices provided by the poll takers would mean enacting further restrictions on abortion, and not even the first precludes any further restrictions. It shouldn't be surprising that most delegates chose the first option, which was the only one that anyone wanting to retain current abortion law would choose; nor does it mean they “endorse abortion on demand.” Schneider, who “researches politics, the presidency, and public opinion” for AEI, surely knows enough about polling to recognize that he grossly distorted the CBS/New York Times poll.