Right-Wing Media Hype Unscientific Online Poll To Declare Ryan Debate Winner

Some of the same conservative media outlets that spent weeks last month bemoaning supposedly “skewed” and unreliable polling are pointing to an unscientific online survey as evidence Paul Ryan won last night's vice presidential debate.

Snap polls released after the debate last night were mixed; a CBS poll of undecided voters found Biden winning 50-31, while CNN declared watchers “split” after their snap poll reported Ryan narrowly winning 48-44. In order to break the apparent tie and declare Ryan the public opinion winner, conservative media outlets (as well as some more mainstream publications like Politico), are promoting an unreliable online poll from CNBC.com.

Under the poll on their website, CNBC.com clearly indicates that it is “Not A Scientific Survey.”

Indeed, you can apparently vote multiple times across different browsers, and the results have fluctuated wildly over the past 15 hours. Last night, several conservative message boards and sites, including Free Republic and Tea Party Nation, posted links to the poll and encouraged their readers to vote in it. At various points, the poll has indicated that Ryan won the debate by twenty points and that Biden won the debate by 8. As of this writing, Ryan leads by 2 points with more than 190,000 votes cast.

As Columbia Journalism Review's Ryan Chittum has explained, though it doesn't excuse “poor reporting” from other outlets, CNBC deserves some of the blame for having “instigated a false media narrative” when they tweeted out vague “POLL RESULTS” indicating that Ryan won the debate. 

The CNBC poll was cited as credible in write-ups at right-wing publications like The Daily CallerNational Review, The Washington Examinerand Breitbart.com.

The CNBC “snap poll” was unfortunately also picked up by more mainstream outlets like Politico, which included it alongside the CNN and CBS polls in an article headlined “Snap polls: Ryan 2, Biden 1.” The article, posted last night at 11:27 p.m., still has not been updated to indicate that the CNBC poll is actually an unscientific online survey.

Politico's misleading article has since been hyped on Fox Nation's homepage under the headline “RYAN Wins Post-Debate Snap Polls.”

The CNBC survey was mentioned at least three times on Fox News this morning by Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. While he dismissed the CBS poll as “a focus group” with “fifty people in a room” (it was a actually survey of 431 uncommitted voters), Doocy touted the CNBC poll as having shown “the winner was Paul Ryan, by twenty points.”

In one of the segments, Doocy declared that polls after the debate “have given Paul Ryan the edge, according to CNN and CNBC.”