Fox runs wild with “not scientific” IBD poll

Several Fox News media figures highlighted a recent Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll which found that "[t]wo of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted." However, according to statistician Nate Silver, the poll is “simply not credible,” and Fox News itself acknowledged that the poll is “not scientific.”

Silver, Fox News undermine IBD/TIPP poll's credibility

Nate Silver: Poll is “simply not credible.” In a September 16 post to his blog, Silver listed five reasons why the IBD poll should be “completely ignore[d]”:

1. The survey was conducted by mail, which is unusual. The only other mail-based poll that I'm aware of is that conducted by the Columbus Dispatch, which was associated with an average error of about 7 percentage points -- the highest of any pollster that we tested.

2. At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: “Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and th quality of care will be better?”. Holy run-on-sentence, Batman? A pollster who asks a question like this one is not intending to be objective.

3. As we learned during the Presidntial campaign -- when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 -- the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. I mean, literally none. For example, I don't trust IBD/TIPP to have competently selected anything resembling a random panel, which is harder to do than you'd think.

4. They say, somewhat ambiguously: “Responses are still coming in.” This is also highly unorthodox. Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.

5. There is virtually no disclosure about methodology. For example, IBD doesn't bother to define the term “practicing physician”, which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that.

Silver added: “There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions.”

Your World aired an on-screen graphic calling the poll “not scientific.” During Neil Cavuto's discussion of the IBD/TIPP poll on the September 16 edition of Fox News' Your World, the on-screen graphic indicated that the poll was “not scientific”:


Fox News ran with IBD/TIPP poll anyway

Neil Cavuto: "Anyway, if Congress votes it in, doctors will bail out. A brand-new poll showing 45 percent of America's doctors will consider hanging up their stethoscopes for good if the government overhauls health care. Dr. Juliette Madrigal is one of them. Doctor, pretty strong warning. What are you saying?" [Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/16/09]

Bret Baier: “If health care reform legislation passes, you could have a hard time finding a doctor, at least according to one poll. A new survey for Investor's Business Daily indicates 45 percent of physicians questioned would consider shutting down their practices or retiring early if Congress approves the type of overhaul that the Democratic majority and the administration have in mind. It also reveals that 65 percent of doctors do not support the plan. That contradicts not only the White House but the American Medical Association. Also, 71 percent of doctors surveyed say they do not believe the government can cover 47 million more people at a lower cost while providing better health care." [Special Report, 9/16/09]

Dick Morris: "In the Investor's Business Daily poll that just came out, by 2-to-1 doctors oppose his plan, and 45 percent of the doctors said they would personally consider retiring or ending their practice if it passes, which will make the shortage even worse." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/16/09]

Bill O'Reilly: "' Unresolved Problem' segment tonight: Trying to get new health care bill passed in America is obviously a major problem, and we have some new poll numbers to show you. A new Rasmussen poll, as we mentioned with Dick Morris, says opposition to Obama care has now reached an all time high. 55 percent against, 42 percent supporting the plan. Investor's Business Daily has a poll which shows 65 percent oppose Obamacare. Just 33 percent support it. And 45 percent of doctors say they will consider leaving their practice or retiring early if Obamacare passes." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/16/09]

Sean Hannity: "The Obama administration cites doctor shortages as one reason health care in the U.S. is so expensive. But if the administration's bill passes, it looks like that problem is only going to get worse. A new poll shows that a whopping 65 percent of doctors oppose the bill and 45 percent would consider quitting their practice entirely or retiring early if it's passed. Well, then we'll really know what a doctor shortage really looks like." [Hannity, 9/16/09]

Steve Doocy: "Plus, over 70 percent of doctors don't believe the president's plan can't cover all the uninsured Americans out there. And wait until you hear how many will leave their practice if it goes through." [Fox & Friends, 9/17/09]