ABC News and The Washington Post issued staggered releases of the results of their latest poll, withholding from their first release results favorable to Sen. Barack Obama, including the finding that 50 percent of registered voters would vote for Obama for president versus 42 percent for Sen. John McCain. The next day, the Post ran an article headlined "Poll Finds Voters Split on Candidates' Iraq-Pullout Positions," which did not mention Obama's 8-point lead over McCain. Later that day, ABC News and the Post issued a second release with additional poll results that stated: "Obama continues to hold most of the advantages in the presidential race."
In disclosing the results of their poll, conducted July 10-13, ABC News and The Washington Post issued staggered releases, withholding from their first release on July 14 poll results favorable to Sen. Barack Obama, including the finding that 50 percent of registered voters would vote for Obama "[i]f the 2008 presidential election were being held today" versus 42 percent who favored Sen. John McCain. A partial release of the results, "embargoed for release after 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 14, 2008," was titled "McCain Stays Competitive on Iraq; It's About More than Withdrawal" and disclosed the results of only 10 questions relating to foreign policy. Among the results, the release noted: 72 percent of respondents think McCain would be "a good commander-in-chief," compared with 48 percent for Obama; "50 percent of Americans prefer Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. forces within 16 months of taking office," compared with 49 percent who side with McCain's position; 47 percent of respondents said they trust McCain more on Iraq, while 45 percent prefer Obama; and 51 percent of Americans "now say the U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda there [in Afghanistan] has been unsuccessful." Following the July 14 release, ABCNews.com posted an analysis of only the foreign policy poll results under the headline "McCain Tops Obama in Commander-in-Chief Test; Stays Competitive on Iraq." Similarly, Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin linked to the ABCNews.com analysis using the headline: "Poll: McCain Wins More Confidence as Commander in Chief." In a July 15 article headlined "Poll Finds Voters Split on Candidates' Iraq-Pullout Positions," the Post reported only the poll results disclosed in the first release. The article did not mention Obama's 8-point lead over McCain among registered voters on who they would vote for "[i]f the 2008 presidential election were being held today."
On July 15, the day after the initial release, ABC News and the Post issued a second release disclosing the results of 18 questions "embargoed for release after 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, 2008." Included in the release was the result that overall, Obama leads McCain by 8 percentage points among registered voters. Additionally, the release stated: "Obama continues to hold most of the advantages in the presidential race, in enthusiasm, levels of partisanship, personal qualities and trust on top domestic issues, notably No. 1, the economy; and he's improved in the past month among swing voter groups." The release noted that Obama leads McCain by 19 percentage points on the question of which candidate respondents "trust more to handle the economy."