Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fox & Friends and Polls

I like to watch Fox & Friends in the morning. It's like picking at a scab: you know you shouldn't do it, you know it's bad for you, but you simply can't resist.

Over the last couple of weeks F&F spent a lot of time on public opinion polls, noting trends in John McCain's favor. Again, and again. Never mind the numbers didn't really support their bandwagon argument all that well, they were trying to create a sense of trend toward their favored guy -- McCain.

Transparent partisanship is okay, even by three smug faces who are journalistically clueless, but I noticed in the last few days they stopped mentioning polls. Why? Could it be that the momentum has all swung Barack Obama's way? Perhaps. Certainly the economy is a stronger issue for Obama, the war for McCain, and all the news about the economy gets worse and worse.

Is there really a bandwagon effect? Yes, the reporting of poll results can move a few people in the direction of the majority. But there's also an underdog effect, people shifting to support the candidate who is behind. Typically people who are predisposed to eventually vote one way or the other see or hear a poll and shift in the bandwagon or underdog direction, depending on their particular preferences. In other words, polls are often a wash when it comes to persuading people to move one way or the other.

So Fox & Friends probably won't be mentioning any more polls until their guy gets some momentum again. Assuming it's mostly McCain supporter watching these three lightweights, the poll reporting won't do all that much.

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