I don’t pay a lot of attention to the polls, but I never trust the polls taken for the New York Times. Rather than reflect opinion, I believe the NYT tries to use polling to mold opinion in a direction its bias favors.
Case in point: Its latest poll, which gave Obama a 56-33% approval rating–dramatically different than other polls, particularly in the disapproval column–made me think it had been skewed toward Democrats. And its answers about the public supporting a government plan–65-26% in favor–really raised my suspicions.
So, I pulled up the poll and took a look. Sure enough, scroll down to the end and here is what you find: The poll was weighed heavily against Republicans who would, not coincidentally, be the least likely to support Obama and a public option. From the poll:
Total Respondents 1042
Total Republicans 289 [unweighted] 234 [weighted] (22%)
Total Democrats 357 [unweighted] 385 [weighted] (37%)
Total Independents 396 [unweighted] 423 [weighted] (41%)
Reverse it so that the Republicans are 37% of respondents and Democrats 22%, and you would have a far different poll result! But that would not be a correct snapshot, any more than this poll is. Moreover, if the poll was to be weighted, say for intensity of feelings about the matter, more Republicans should be included rather than fewer, since they seem to be much more intensely involved in the political fight.
So there you have it: The NYT/CBS poll used the pretext of objective polling to push a particular outcome to influence the course of the debate and, I believe, put some backbone into wavering Blue Dog Democrats whose support is needed to pass the public option. And it isn’t the first time the NYT has done this. I reported earlier in the summer that an earlier NYT Poll on health care polled 48% Obama voters versus only 25% that went for McCain. That’s disgraceful. No wonder less than 20% of the people trust the news media.