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June 28, 2004
Two Tales Of One Poll

The CBS/New York Times poll results have been reported on the web sites of both news organizations, but from the divergent treatment given on each, a reader could be forgiven for thinking that they're discussing two completely different stories. First, the CBS article focuses on the main story, which is that even CBS/NYT's flawed polling shows a sharp increase in support for George Bush from a month ago:

Despite concerns about his handling of Iraq, and an overall approval rating of 42%, George W. Bush is still running neck and neck with Democrat John Kerry as the choice of registered voters. Growing public optimism about the nations economy has helped lift support for the President.

Kerry is the choice of 45% of registered voters, Bush the choice of 44%. This is a sharp turnaround for the Bush campaign in the span of just one month; in May, Kerry had opened up a wide 8-point lead over Bush. The race has been close since April.

CBS only reports the results of a two-way race, not including Nader, but at least they get around to showing the Bush rebound in the second paragraph. They also note the sharp increase in voters who say that the economy is getting better over the May results, arguing that the expanding economy will lift Bush as it becomes more widely recognized by the electorate. As job growth and GDP expansion continues, Kerry will continue to see an erosion in his support.

On the other hand, Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder take the glass-half-empty approach at the Gray Lady. The article takes its time getting to the status of the race while they discuss Bush's approval ratings, in several iterations, ad nauseum. They wait until the eleventh paragraph to discuss the actual head-to-head results as well as the three-way results (where Bush leads by a point), and only mention the May results in the thirteenth paragraph, only hinting at the significant Bush rebound:

Nationwide, Mr. Kerry has the support of 45 percent of registered voters, with Mr. Bush supported by 44 percent. When Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, is included, he draws 5 percent, leaving 42 percent for Mr. Kerry and 43 percent for Mr. Bush. ...

The tight race indicated by the poll reflects how aides to both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have described the overall state of play for weeks. But other polls have, at times, shown Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush bumping ahead. A CBS News poll taken last month found Mr. Kerry with a lead of 49 percent to 41 percent over Mr. Bush.

New York readers apparently cannot handle poll results in the same manner as CBS' nationwide audience, or at least that's the impression that Nagourney and Elder give in their treatment of the Times' own poll.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 28, 2004 11:10 PM

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