POLITICO Touts Pro-Biden Poll Without Actually Linking to It

AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan

In a piece declaring that Joe Biden is winning the war on Afghanistan messaging, POLITICO explains that those polled recently support America being out of Afghanistan more than they support remaining in Afghanistan. Which is actually probably accurate and there is no reason to doubt that those polled feel that way.

The problem, however, is twofold:

  1. That is a dishonest framing of the Afghanistan situation
  2. They provide no link to the poll itself.

Via the POLITICO piece:

FIRST IN NATSEC DAILY — The Biden administration’s messaging on Afghanistan is working, new polling seen exclusively by NatSec Daily shows — a boon to Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN and Defense Secretary LLOYD AUSTIN as they head into congressional hearings on the chaotic withdrawal.

The C|T Group, an international consulting firm, sent one-sentence arguments to people in the United States, Britain and Australia, both in favor of and against President JOE BIDEN’s pullout decision. They found that pro-withdrawal lines drove more people to support leaving Afghanistan, whereas statements that backed remaining in the country weren’t as convincing.

The poll was seen “exclusively” by the writers of this newsletter, and that in itself raises some issues. Why is it not released widely? Given the disastrous polling of the last few election cycles, transparency in polling is more vital than ever. That the poll appears to have been shopped around does not lend much credibility.

Moreover, the description is a bit strange. It appears that several lines were randomly sent out to respondents, but we don’t know what questions they were asked about the lines or how the lines were delivered. We also don’t know if everyone got one line or multiple lines, whether or not the respondents were asked to rank them or just approve or disapprove. They don’t even give percentages of approval or disapproval. This story tells us absolutely nothing at all.

The giveaway here is the following section:

About 33 percent of Britons and 32 percent of Aussies say China will be the world’s most influential country in 10 years. Only 18 percent and 21 percent from those two countries, respectively, believe the most powerful nation will be the United States. Among Americans, though, 34 percent say the United States will stay on top, while 21 percent say China will surpass it.

They will give percentages for other countries’ respondents and still not say what Americans think on the subject. This clearly seems like a mix of bad polling and bad reporting. If someone handed this poll to me and this was the only information I had, I wouldn’t write the story because it tells me nothing. If the polling firm did tell POLITICO the details and they excluded it, all of these writers deserve to be punished for leaving so many holes in the reporting.

Does the polling really favor President Biden?
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The other problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that this poll completely misframes the situation. The problem with Afghanistan is not whether or not we should still be there.

The problem with Afghanistan is the withdrawal being an utter, directionless disaster. There appears to have been no plan, we have potentially thousands of Americans still stuck in the country, and there is seemingly no desire to get them out (though we will give the Taliban millions of dollars in aid).

It’s not a question of whether or not we should still be there, whether or not we should be propping up a failed regime, or whether or not the war was worth fighting. The question is “Did we screw up?” and the answer is a resounding yes.

But if that question gets asked right now, the public polling may still be on Biden’s side. The media has largely moved on in an effort to protect the President and because of their own boredom with the issue. They have no interest in really covering the withdrawal itself, but they will point to bad polling and say “See? This is proof we should be out of there!”

Except, we aren’t out of there. Our military is, but not our people. If you ask folks like these reporters at POLITICO, though, that doesn’t appear to matter.