Does News Media Have Favor Toward Clinton?
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, famed political pollster Pat Caddell suggested that in changing its methodology, Reuters is attempting to show Hillary Clinton as stronger of a candidate than she truly is. Caddell’s thought comes after Reuters announced that it would remove the “neither” option from its polls. The change impacts not just future polls, but past polls as well. Reuters edited the results of the already-completed surveys to effectuate the changes.
For example, their July 25 poll, which had previously shown Donald Trump ahead by almost 3 points, now has Trump trailing Clinton by almost 3 points. A similar change occurred in the July 26 poll, resulting in almost a 9-point swing. According to Caddell, it is nearly impossible to know how Reuters changed its sampling techniques. Nonetheless, the change clearly favors Clinton.
Caddell, who worked for several presidential campaigns throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is only the most recent person to criticize modern polling methods. During this year’s primaries, famous polling company Gallup would not commit to conducting polls during this cycle. Others have pointed to the changing landscape of the country. Landline phones are obsolete and the media cycle is largely controlled by the internet.
Caddell suggests that these discrepancies and lack of sureties in polling allow the companies to manipulate results as they see fit. “This idea of ‘We need a poll to give the result we want’ to fit either our ideological or political needs is beyond dangerous,” said Caddell. “It is dangerous because it drives the news coverage and it is all by design now, which is why everyone is in such shock at what Reuters did.”
The fact that polls and media priming drive a self-fulfilling prophecy is nothing new to libertarians. In 2012, Ron Paul was infamously left out of media coverage on a regular basis. His son, Rand Paul received similar treatment during the 2016 presidential election. While it is difficult to quantify how much this lessened the men’s chances of victory, it certainly did not help.
Now, the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld is experiencing a very similar fate thus far, though on a much different scale. Though the LP ticket has been featured in many polls, it has just as often been forgotten. For a third-party seeking exposure, this can be deadly, as Johnson and Weld need to be at 15% in national polls in order to be included in the presidential debates. Needless to say, exclusion from polls is the simplest way to keep this from happening.
Not many libertarians will shed a tear for Donald Trump should he be cost the election due to faulty reporting. However, the broader implications for media control of political narratives is harrowing. Due to an apparent long-standing relationship between media and big-government institutions, this intertwining is very detrimental to the prospects of liberty.
Moreover, as the 24-hour news cycle has escalated over the past two decades, in addition to the advance of social media, narratives have become more polarized and oversimplified. Any attempt to step toward intellectual discussion has been squelched in favor of “us versus them” chicanery. It is perhaps for this reason that Reuters eliminated “neither” in their poll; there is no “neither.” Americans must choose “red” or “blue” and fit cleanly inside those boxes.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting how pollsters react and continue to adapt in the face of increased scrutiny. The 2016 election will be monumental for a number of reasons, and this has become clear already. With changing norms and standards, polling will be just one political aspect of many which will likely never be the same after this November’s contest.