We have seen how polls can be manipulated so that a contorted result comes about as desired.
We have basically become inured at this stage to the press coddling President Biden. Excuses are made, deflections to GOP reactions are a given, and White House talking points are repeated nearly verbatim. That was why when the stark inflation figures were released this week to reflect 40-year highs, it was barely a head-turner to see so many news outlets declaring this to be Vladimir Putin’s price increase.
It is a blatant contradiction that never goes acknowledged; on the campaign trail, Biden boldly stated that the buck would stop with him, but the press has been extremely busy passing that dollar to any other targets as responsible for Biden’s political calamities. It has become so commonplace that it demands a parody explanation.
Conservative media attempts to hold Biden responsible for the economic challenges, dredging up this quote.
Why they fail is that between the pandemic, states opening up, supply chain challenges, bad weather, corporate greed and Putin’s invasion the buck has not reached him yet. pic.twitter.com/GBXADOykQN
— Bullwork Online! 🇧🇸The Bulwark Commentary Site (@TheBullwork) April 13, 2022
In the latest example of the press throwing up its shields, ABC News released a new poll where respondents were asked their opinion on a number of national issues. But it’s curious the way this approval poll came up with results. The presentation seems to be, shall we say, interpretational. It is basically presented right there in the headline.
A large majority of Americans say oil companies and Vladimir Putin are major culprits for recent increase in gas prices, new @ABC News/Ipsos poll finds. https://t.co/fE9MAz9Lzh
— ABC News (@ABC) April 10, 2022
Then there is the subheader: Americans are more likely to blame Democrats than Republicans for the hike. If you have a sense of confusion with these claims, that is understandable – and it is most likely by design. First is a series of topics where the expected Approve/Disapprove were offered, with one of those being, Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling gas prices? The result here was:
- APPROVE – 31%
- DISAPPROVE – 68%
- SKIPPED – 1%
But then in the fourth section, the people were asked specifically about gas prices, giving them a chance to show how much blame they cast on a variety of possible influences. The difference is that there was not a list from which they would choose one cause, and neither was it a case of ranking their selections. Instead, respondents would select Great Deal/Good Amount/Not Much/Not At All. Each of these answers could be used on all of the options if they chose.
This means that numerous influences could be assessed blame, leading to random and overlapping results. First, we see Biden as a choice, and despite the fact that we already saw the answers saying there was over two-thirds disapproval for his handling of gas prices, in this section that opposition softened, as the respondents blame him at 51 percent. That is a double-digit change from what was practically the same thing asked at the start of the poll.
But then throughout the remaining options, where they could level responsibility, look at how many choices earned over half of the answers.
- Blame gas prices on Oil Companies – 68%
- Blame gas prices on Democrat Policies – 52%
- Blame gas prices on Vlad Putin – 71%
This now becomes a pick-and-choose option for any news outlets that report on this poll. Want to blame Putin? Well, there you go. Need to demonize the oil companies? Hey, we got the number for you. Looking for a way to frame the responsibility away from Biden? Then point out how 17 percent more Americans blame Big Oil than the President. Heck, you could even combine results and say “57% of Americans blame Trump and the GOP for high gas prices!”
There is nothing surprising here, when we have seen how polls can be manipulated so that a contorted result comes about as desired. In this case, however, the value in this poll is how shows us exactly to what level the media will descend in order to protect Biden’s image. The way this was constructed renders the results meaningless, so that now, the negative numbers cannot be reliable.
And there you have it; the results are so flawed that there is less of a chance of reporting on his bad approval results. Well done, ABC News.