Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of Foley Scandal

When Bush's approval is rising, more polling firms conduct polls of Bush's job approval. Don't believe me? Well, it is true, and Professor Pollkatz can prove it (PDF, emphasis mine):The thrust of this analysis is that there is, indeed, ample reason to suspect the pollsters in the sample - those tracked by pollingreport.com3 - as tending to poll when Bush's approval numbers are rising. For each specification, all the coefficient estimates are positive, implying a positive relationship. Those in the first two columns are significant at conventional levels, and the others, while insignificant, are consistent with them.

Most important are the change coefficients. If Bush's approval, as measured by the Index, rose by one point from, say, from the 15th of the month to the end of the month, on average we can predict that one-third more pollsters were in on the action in the latter period. The Index had also risen by one point between the end of the previous month to the 15th of the current month, we can predict another one-third pollster.

Apparently when Bush's popularity is rising relatively quickly, more polls are taken. You can bet that if a big scandal had broken out last Friday that was harmful to Democratic chances in this election, that there would already be several congressional generic ballot polls completed and widely reported on. You can bet that those polls which were least favorable to Democrats would be the most widely reported on of all. You can bet that poll or polls would be worked into a national media narrative of how Democrats are plummeting in the upcoming elections, and Republicans are likely to retain control. We have seen this time and time again. We even saw it two weeks ago, as the Gallup poll of likely voter models showing a tied race received far more press than, say, the AP poll showing Democrats ahead 14 points among likely voters that came out at the same time. That was particularly amazing, since AP owns the nation's largest wire service and all. (click here and here to compare the ink received by the two polls).

By way of contrast, with a major scandal seriously cutting away at Republican chances in this election, we have seen all of one congressional ballot poll since last Friday. Usually in this campaign cycle, we have seen about three or four every week. This week, just one. In fact, the latest poll from NBC / Wall Street Journal, which was conducted entirely after the Foley scandal had broken, mysteriously did not even publish their usual question on Congress:What is your preference for the outcome of this year's congressional elections: a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats?" They have asked this question in all eleven polls they have taken since May of 2005. Why hasn't it been released along with their latest Bush job approval numbers? It could just be a matter of time, but it sems very strange to me that it did not come out with the initial release. Where are those numbers? Why have they been delayed? Were they even asked this time?

Last week, there were four generic ballot polls released to the public. The week before that, there were three. Before that, there were five. However, this week, in the middle of a huge election season scandal that is dominating the news and involves the Republican leadership of the House, we only have one. Where are the polls to help feed the media narrative now? A two day poll could have started on Monday, four days into the scandal, and been released by now. A three day poll could have started on Sunday, three days into the scandal, and been released by now. Only CNN has done that so far. Every other news organization remains silent with their pollsters.

Maybe these polls are in the field, and there will be a big wave of them tomorrow. Or, maybe, there will be a big wave of them on Friday and Saturday, outside of the main times when people read the news. Or, maybe, these polls are not in the field. This is particularly frustrating--don't people want to know how this scandal is affecting Republicans in the upcoming elections? You can bet good money that if the scandal had gone in the other direction, there would already be multiple polls out and released by now.

If they have not done so already, news organizations that regularly commission political polls need to get on the phone and commission one right now. Otherwise, they are simply not giving Democrats equal time, or a fair shake when it comes to building a broader narrative. I would like to be proven wrong about this tomorrow, and hopefully I will be. However, I am not holding my breath.

Update: MyDD diarist InigoMontoya reports that an AP-Ipsos poll is currently in the field. Good.

Tags: Media, polls (all tags)



No Comment= big news

In the wake of the Foley scandal, there was one Congressperson who chose not to comment: Anne Northup (R-KY3).  Worse than silence, when asked about Foley, her office said they wouldn't comment on any of it.  Yet the local paper doesn't think her silence is newsworthy.  Join me in emailing the the Courier Journal to find out why a nuetral stance on a child predator isn't news.  Email, and join me in trying to find out where the media has gone...

by voter in the ville 2006-10-04 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls

Chris:  It isn't exactly deep linking, but when you pull out old Pollkatz stuff for an encore (most gratifying!), please include a link to the Pollkatz site.  That's the only pay I get.

-- Stuart Eugene Thiel
(nom de guerre Professor Pollkatz)

by drlimerick 2006-10-04 03:00PM | 0 recs
Maybe they're waiting for the scandal to mature?


by msnook 2006-10-04 03:10PM | 0 recs

I will say, though, that it usually takes them several days to conduct these polls.  The Foley scandal broke on Thursday night, and Foley resigned on Friday (after it became clear that blaming it on a smear campaign by his Democratic opponent wasn't going to work.)  No new polls by Wednesday, then, isn't terribly odd.  Maybe we'll see a new poll on Friday with 18 percent of the country thinking Congress is doing a good job.

by Tom 2006-10-04 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of

I have a hard time believing that only 1 poll has been conducted this week.  Businesses like orderly schedules they can plan on, and polls shouldn't be any different.

One possibility is that one or more polling outfits got what looked to be outlier polls, so they kept it in the field an extra day to lower the confidence interval, or perhaps just commissioned a whole new poll.  Maybe the backlash to the Foley incident is so strong that it's shifted the playing field, and they want to make sure it's not an anomolous poll.  Bush at 35%?  A boy can dream.

Alternately, might news organizations field polls, but only release those that have results they want to highlight, rather like the RNC?  I wouldn't put this past Fox, but I would hope other outlets would not stoop to this level to change the media narrative.

by aip 2006-10-04 03:20PM | 0 recs
If I were polling...

I'd probably not want to conduct a poll in the middle of a rapidly changing scandal. Republican numbers will keep getting worse. I agree with what's above; suppose you do a running total and you find that Republicans' approval rating is slipping 5 points a day. (Probably an exaggeration, but let's just imagine.) Would you have much confidence in the average of these numbers over three days? Wouldn't you want to keep going until public opinion seems to settle?

I think the polls are coming soon, and they'll be good news for us. Plus, if we rush things, Republicans have a chance to recover. The longer this scandal drags out, the worse for them. A premature poll that shows Republicans down very far makes it likely that when the polls tighten, the media narrative will become, "Voters have forgiven Republicans."

by sxp151 2006-10-04 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: If I were polling...

i could not agree with you more.  Do not rush.  If i were Rahm i'd be on the phone telling every Dem to "SHUT UP" (certainly respond to questions posed, but don't hold pressers calling for everyone to resign.    don't start throwing up foley related ads.)  The Republican leadership is tearing themselves apart on their own.  Just stand and watch the places go up in flames.

Dem candidates should be busy hammering away on Iraq; State of Denial, the Oct. casualties so far, Death Squads in Iraqi Police, the $20million for the Iraq Victory party......

by padraig26 2006-10-04 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: If I were polling...

I agree with the thrust of spx151 and padraig26, and I'm very sympathetic to Chris.  I have no trouble believing the media -- including pollsters -- have a bias towards Bush, but I also think that polling numbers done immediately on the heels of a dramatic event are hard to interpret as to their downstream significance.  After Benson's "... and your no Jack Kennedy" line, I thought Bush (I) was dead (Quayle was always dead -- and it didn't matter!).  But precisely the devastating moment was a sort of outlier, and I'm not sure having a poll done now about general stuff would be easy to gage.  Now, if such polls were done every other Friday or some such thing, then over time ...  Doesn't this make sense?

by SaratogaProf 2006-10-04 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's give John Laesch a hand!

I'm not from his district but hey, the polls showed him about 20 pts behind Hastert last round, how about we mount a good campaign hand and help John Laesch push Hastert out on the street???

by mainsailset 2006-10-04 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's give John Laesch a hand!
Give him a hand? How about giving him some money! ;-) tity/8777 C'mon folks, open up those wallets!
by Copley 2006-10-04 06:14PM | 0 recs
Laesch's ActBlue page

I guess I should use that preview button, eh?

by Copley 2006-10-04 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of

I was going to diary fact, I think I will...anyway, for other reasons, but I was polled by AP/IPSOS last night.

I'll go make a diary now.  I paid attention to how they were doing their Likely Voter screen.

by InigoMontoya 2006-10-04 04:26PM | 0 recs

Any on else having problems with BB?  Its pretty much been blank all day for me?

by JAmbro 2006-10-04 04:51PM | 0 recs
Hmm. . . maybe:

When Bush's approval is rising, more polling firms conduct polls of Bush's job approval.

. . . or maybe they're just more likely to report their findings when they're favorable to Bush?  

by osterizer 2006-10-04 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmm. . . maybe:
It's true. The media is more likely to report on unusual occurences.
by Copley 2006-10-04 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmm. . . maybe:

Yes, Bush losing supporters is a Dog Bites Man story. :)

by Tom 2006-10-04 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of lists the result of the latest (9/30-10/2) NBC/WSJ generic congressional ballot question as Dem's 48, Repub's 39.

by CalD 2006-10-04 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of
Well, they certainly did not foreground it in the release of their poll.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-04 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of
I heard during 2004 that alot of the polls were commissioned by the networks.
Maybe the policy of only taking alot of polls is when they expect a bushbump is coming from the MSM.  We know they do the gop bidding.
But, to take polls is usually a commission and we know the networks do not like a bush bust.
by vwcat 2006-10-04 06:42PM | 0 recs
If the media pollsters are GOP-biased

...why are their employers pounding the everloving crap out of the Republicans night and day?

Screw the polls; I'll take this kinda coverage for as long I can stand it.

Eventually there will be polls. And they can't be good for the Reps. No way can you molest children, lie about it, stop campaigning for a week, and come out ahead.

Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while--I think we stepped in shit and came up smellin' like Old Spice.

In other words, it's better to be lucky than smart.

by stevehigh 2006-10-04 10:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Conspicuous Lack of National Polls In Wake of

by stevehigh 2006-10-04 10:40PM | 0 recs
by estebban 2006-12-26 12:05AM | 0 recs


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