Dishonest Show of Hands

I have previously posted about the problem with on-line surveys sponsored by news outlets: “When newsies are constantly in the business of alternating between telling folks ‘this survey is accurate’ and ‘this survey is inaccurate’ the credibility of news overall and polls in particular erodes further.”

The latest embarrassing example of this increasingly tangled web comes from CNBC.

A few days ago, Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul won a CNBC online poll querying who came across best in a recent presidential debate. But CNBC, which designed the online poll to allow people to vote as often as they wished, lambasted the Paul campaign for, you guessed it, voting as often as they wished.

In a letter to the Paul campaign,’s Managing Editor whined that the Paulites ruined the purpose of his online poll. “It was no longer an honest ‘show of hands’ — it suddenly was a platform for beating the Ron Paul drum.” CNBC then pulled the poll off of its website in a snit.

CNBC correspondent John Harwood, however, subseqently said the online poll should have stayed up on the website. “…I believe the results we measured showing an impressive 75 percent naming Paul reflect the organization and motivation of Paul’s adherents. This is precisely what unscientific surveys of this kind are created to measure . . .”

So let me get this straight. Now online polls should be viewed as valid measures, but of political propaganda prowess rather than public opinion?

– Loveland

3 thoughts on “Dishonest Show of Hands

  1. jloveland says:

    Btw, meanwhile CNBC, NBC and the Wall Street Journal regularly collaborate on statistically significant random digit dial surveys conducted by the reputable bipartisan pollster team of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). They expect Americans to accept the validity of these polls, but reject the validity of the online polls.

  2. Kelly Groehler says:

    It’s amusing that Fox Business Channel launched this week with the “peacock-hunting season” rally cry – and yet it can’t use its own WSJ content or experts until 2012, because of WSJ’s exclusive contract with CNBC. Murdoch says it’s no big deal, but it should make things like these surveys all the more interesting, hm?

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