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Reuters Yet to Apologize for Poll Countering Media Narrative

by Steven Moore, published

Reuters yesterday issued survey findings that showed, for the first time in the Trump presidency, that voters would prefer to vote for a Republican for Congress in 2018. This, of course, runs counter to the media narrative. 

The question specifically asks “Thinking about the elections in 2018, if the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate in your district where you live?”

Thirty-eight percent of poll respondents chose Republicans, while thirty-seven percent of respondents preferred Democrats. Only seven percent of respondents chose a third party.

The gap between voters preferring a Republican and those choosing a Democrat in Reuters polls was as much as 16 points in early April, marking a 17 point swing in less than six weeks.

This comes on the heels of a series of polls from Reuters in early May which showed an upswing in support for President Trump. Reuters disavowed these polls in an almost apologetic fashion.

Reuters apologetically distancing itself from the May poll is likely a result of the savage beating in the media the directors of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll received in 2016 for publishing a poll that conflicted with the media narrative. The LA Times poll was the only poll to show Trump ahead consistently during the election and predict Trump’s victory on election day.

Nate Cohn writing in The Upshot and the seemingly innumerate Philip Bump writing in The Fix both went to great lengths to protect the media narrative and discredit the LA Times poll methodology.

Vox, the Guardian, Salon and a host of others published articles dismissing the poll largely based on the Cohn piece.

And these were the relatively intelligent criticisms. Many pundits were, let’s say, less scientific.

For instance, respected California newspapermen Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts went in hard on the LA Times poll to protect the media narrative. Phil Trounstine (not to be confused with Phil Bronstein) is formerly the political editor for the San Jose Mercury News and communications director for Gov. Gray Davis. Roberts was managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and wrote a biography of Dianne Feinstein. 

The duo used the modifier “screwball” to describe the LA Times poll, dubbed it a “world class flapdoodle” and called the survey “arrogant.” I thought ascribing human attributes to bits of information was odd, but Trounstine and Roberts are from San Francisco, so maybe they know more about AI than we do.

Trounstine and Roberts went as far as calling out poll directors Larry Lauter and Dan Schnurr by name for their “reckless” poll.

I hope Schnurr and Lauter framed the note of apology from Trounstine and Roberts, and those from the many others from pundits who chastised them for months for having the... arrogance to present data that was counter to the media narrative. But I am sure they are still reaching back into a dark mailbox looking for those envelopes.

The only apologies you can expect in the world of media polling is one for publishing a poll that counters the prevailing media narrative.

ADDENDUM: In the 24 hours after Reuters released the poll showing Republicans ahead for the first time in this election cycle, virtually no mainstream media source has picked up the story.

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