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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

McCain Voters Less Affected by Media Malpractice

Recently, filmmaker John Ziegler made waves with his website "" The website is the precursor to Ziegler’s soon to be released documentary, “Media Malpractice.” In early November, Ziegler randomly selected and interviewed 12 Obama voters as they left the polls to see how the news media had impacted their knowledge of the 2008 presidential election campaigns.

This video went viral and has received more than 1.6 million views worldwide. In tandem with the dozen entertaining (albeit far from scientific) interviews, Ziegler also commissioned a Zogby International telephone poll which used the same exact questions. The poll tapped over 500 Obama voters and the trends in Zogby's poll results were almost identical to the trends found in Ziegler's interviews. The full results of Zogby’s polling can be found here. These results are accurate within +/- 4.4 % points and, as cited on "", some were quite disturbing:

512 Obama Voters
MOE +/- 4.4 points

97.1% High School Graduate or higher, 55% College Graduates
Results to 12 simple Multiple Choice Questions

57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)

71.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)

82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

And yet.....
Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her "house," even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

Only 2.4% got at least 11 correct.

Only .5% got all of them correct. (And we "gave" one answer that was technically not Palin, but actually Tina Fey)

Ziegler then ventured onto FOX News’ Hannity and Colmes and explained his project.

As Colmes suggested, Ziegler/ Zogby’s findings would have had more scientific weight had both Obama and McCain voters been tapped. It's hard to digest the figures for Obama voters if there is no basis for comparison. Ziegler’s response to this criticism was that he wanted to show how those who voted for Obama consumed information from only pro-Obama news sources, and, as a result, were poorly informed. He told that the purpose of his work was "to determine the extent of media coverage (influence) on Obama voters,” and so it seemed irrelevant at the time to poll McCain voters.

Yet objectors insisted the findings of Zogby’s poll and Ziegler’s interviews could easily be duplicated with a select group of McCain voters and that Zogby’s poll was a push poll. John Zogby responded to the criticism on his organization's website:

"We stand by the results our survey work on behalf of John Ziegler, as we stand by all of our work. We reject the notion that this was a push poll because it very simply wasn't. It was a legitimate effort to test the knowledge of voters who cast ballots for Barack Obama in the Nov. 4 election. Push polls are a malicious effort to sway public opinion one way or the other, while message and knowledge testing is quite another effort of public opinion research that is legitimate inquiry and has value in the public square. In this case, the respondents were given a full range of responses and were not pressured or influenced to respond in one way or another. This poll was not designed to hurt anyone, which is obvious as it was conducted after the election. The client is free to draw his own conclusions about the research, as are bloggers and other members of society. But Zogby International is a neutral party in this matter. We were hired to test public opinion on a particular subject and with no ax to grind, that's exactly what we did. We don't have to agree or disagree with the questions, we simply ask them and provide the client with a fair and accurate set of data reflecting public opinion."

After several days of liberal backlash, Zogby tapered his response, telling, “I believe there was value in the poll we did. It was not our finest hour. This slipped through the cracks. It came out critical only of Obama voters.”

To which Ziegler replied, “Not their finest hour? This was a great poll. This didn't fall through any 'cracks,' they (Zogby) just got scared. ... The point of the poll was for my documentary on the media's impact on (Obama) voter knowledge."

Zogby also told that he would not repeat the poll with the inclusion of McCain voters unless he was allowed to formulate the questions.

“I am happy to do a poll of both Obama voters and McCain voters,” said Zogby, “with questions that I formulated and sponsored either by an objective third party or by someone on the left, in tandem with a John Ziegler on the right — but poll questions that have my signature.”

Ziegler replied, “I am shocked by John's statement that he would do another poll but not an exact duplication. What is the point of that?” Ziegler is alluding to the fact that reproducing a poll which includes McCain voters but asks different questions would not provide the standard for comparison for which his critics seems so desperate. also reported:

Ziegler had e-mailed Karen Scott, managing editor of Zogby International: “I am writing because there is great interest in commissioning the same poll of McCain voters, and I have obtained the money to do so. If done right I think this can be a win/win for everyone. Please advise me as to the company's thinking on this.”

Scott e-mailed Ziegler in response: “Thank you for being in touch with us; I am sorry no one got back to you yesterday. Your request has been reviewed here at all levels, and we are not interested in this project at this time.”

Ziegler then turned to Wilson Research Strategies, an opinion research firm which serves Republican candidates, conservative organizations, public affairs campaigns, and major corporations. After all the heat Zogby received for the part he played in Ziegler’s documentary, I suppose Ziegler had nowhere to turn but to a conservative polling firm.

Doing what Zogby International would not, Wilson Research polled BOTH Obama voters AND McCain voters with the SAME questions used in the first Zogby poll (with the addition of one question relating to the McCain/ Keating scandal). Obama voter responses were almost identical to those from the first poll, but McCain voters tended to be considerably more informed than their liberal counterparts. Here are the full results of the Wilson Research poll.

Ziegler went back onto Hannity and Colmes to report his findings:

As cited on, some of the significant findings of that poll are as follows:

The 12 "Zogby" questions were duplicated, one on the Keating scandal was added for extra balance. The results from Obama voters were virtually IDENTICAL in both polls.

Here are the highlights:

35 % of McCain voters got 10 or more of 13 questions correct.

18% of Obama voters got 10 or more of 13 questions correct.

McCain voters knew which party controls congress by a 63-27 margin.

Obama voters got the “congressional control” question wrong by 43-41.

Those that got "congressional control" correct voted 56-43 for McCain.

Those that got "congressional control" wrong voted 65-35 for Obama.

The poll also asked voters to name all the media sources from which they got information.

Those “exposed” to Fox News got "congressional control" correct 64-25 (+39)

Those “exposed” to CNN got “congressional control” correct 48-38 (+10)

Those “exposed” to Network news got “congressional control” correct 48-39 (+9)

Those “exposed” to print media got “congressional control” correct 52-37 (+15)

Those “exposed” to MSNBC got “congressional control” correct 55-35 (+20)

Those “exposed” to talk radio got “congressional control” correct 61-29 (+32)

Voters in the "South" had the best response rate on “congressional control” (+22)

Voters in the "Northeast" had the worst response rate on “congressional control” (+9)

Those “exposed” to Fox News voted 70-29 for McCain.

Those “exposed” to CNN voted 63-37 for Obama.

Those “exposed” to MSNBC voted 73-26 for Obama.

Those “exposed” to network newscasts voted 62-37 for Obama.

Those “exposed” to national newspapers voted 64-36 for Obama.

Those “exposed” to talk radio voted 61-38 for McCain.

Those that could associate Bill Ayers' name/story with Obama voted 52-48 for McCain (We added Ayers name to the "Zogby" question and it significantly increased the rate of correct response, indicating a very superficial grasp of the overall story).

Those that knew Obama had made negative comments about “coal power plants" voted 76-24 for McCain.

Those that knew Obama had his opponents knocked off the ballot in his first campaign voted 66-34 for McCain.

McCain voters did poorly (only 42% correct) on the Keating question and,in general, the voters did universally worse on questions where the negative information was about their candidate

Women under 55 did worse than they might have by guessing on four of the thirteen questions, and yet 95% of them knew that Palin was the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter. Even 95% of those in this demographic group who didn't know “congressional control” got this question correct.

Those “exposed” to MSNBC “scored” 90% correct on the three Palin questions (including an incredible 98% on the “pregnant teenage daughter” question), while

those not “exposed” to MSNBC averaged 84% correct on those three questions.

No doubt, these findings will be disregarded by MSM simply because it was a conservative organization which did the polling. Mr. Ziegler is up against a liberal media machine that has every intention of squashing dissent. I’ve discussed the dramatic left lean of the media at length here.

All conservatives can do is “fight the good fight” and hope that the snowball effect of common sense and logic catches on sooner rather than later. It’s an uphill battle against the left-leaning MSM and liberal indoctrination of schools, but it is a winnable fight. Victory can only be achieved, however, if and when conservative citizens begin to arm themselves with the necessary information to debunk liberal propaganda. Did you know all the answers to Ziegler’s poll questions? If not, perhaps figuring those out would be a good place to start.


Todd M said...

Let's really be honest here. Does anybody believe McCain really WANTED to win? Did Republicans actually REALLY want him to win? This was the "American Idol" election. The fawning over Obama by the media was ridiculous. But here is the sad truth. The Republicans didn't learn anything from the disasterous nomination of Bob Dole in 1996 (an election they could have won had they nominated a live person.) Here is the lesson they didn't learn. Old,white,been there for 50 years, uninspiring SENATORS don't inspire the base or the independents!! (Especially when they are RINOS.) We had better get a different MESSENGER, not a different message. Palin is not the answer, someone like Steele or Gingrich is. McCain's campaign was the worst in history and he still did fairly well. The RNC better get to work on messengers. Thank heavens for small victories,(Saxby Chambliss) and the preservation of the filibuster!

Seth said...

Hi there Tom,

Thanks for the comment. I do believe that McCain wanted to win, but on his terms. The GOP put forth its most moderate candidate and that candidate ran a moderate campaign. McCain has never enthused the hard right and, instead, appears to be the Republican equivalent of Joe Lieberman. This was a conscientious decision made by the GOP. Republicans knew full well that George Bush was a liability in the 2008 election.

Instead of trying to change public opinion about the Bush administration, the GOP offered up the most centrist candidate it could. You say that the GOP didn't learn anything after nominating Bob Dole, and I'm inclined to agree but for different reasons. Yes, Bob dole lacked a certain excitement about his demeanor (like McCain), but he also failed because he was the equivalent of a light democratic alternative.

In 2008, Americans didn't want someone that reminded them of George Bush but it appears they didn’t want a moderate Republican either. So, in that regard, yes, the GOP needs a better messenger – a messenger who provides a better conservative option and who knows how to package and pitch his/her platform. Republicans have the better arguments on most issues, they need someone who can efficiently explain and present conservative positions. Part of doing that, though, necessarily entails a candidate who understands the increased importance of a strong internet presence and the changing demographics of America. Now, I don't think it matters if the next GOP candidate is old and white so much as it matters that s/he has the capacity to effectively convey conservative arguments.


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