Friday, June 8, 2012

False Equivalence Again

The press does the dirty work of the Republican party again.  A few days we saw a story about a new Pew poll showing a fairly dramatic increase in the percentage of voters who call themselves independents rather than identify with one of the two political parties.

Here are just a few samples of the sort of reporting we saw.  I can't be bothered to link to them- sorry if that upsets you:

ABC News:  "Pew Poll: Independent Voters Swing Right, Oppose Party Supported in 08"

Seattle Times:  "Poll: Partisan gap grows; party affiliation erodes...moderates abandon both parties"

The Oklahoman:  "The results indicate a collective thumbs down to both the Democratic and Republican Party"

Well, we get that...voters are abandoning both parties, and if anything this is a sign that they are moving to the right.

So, here is a graph of the actual data from the Pew poll:

So, sure enough, independent voters have increased from 29% to 38% of the electorate.  And they came from both parties...well, not quite.  In fact, the percentage of people who identify as Democrats decreased from 33% to 32%- a whopping loss of 1 percentage point!  In the same time, Republican voters decreased from 31% to 24%- a drop of 7 percentage points.  So, Democrats lost three percent of their self-identified voters, while Republicans lost 23 percent of theirs.

But, see, it's all equal.  People hate both parties just as much and blame them both for the dysfunction in Washington, and that's what we are going to be told over and over again between now and November.  Lies- the only fair reporting.


the yellow fringe said...

My son is a political science PhD guy, I don't bother him much on things like this but I ask him about this poll. He said it doesn't tell us very much since we don't know what the poll taker question was, nor the question or "frame" that preceded it. We also don't know if the results shown over the years were from identical questions or not, nor if the sample group was identical in make up over that period. He believes that actual independants never amount to more than around 10%. When we see these surges of so called inde's in some years get in the voting booth, with few exceptions they vote with the party they claim they were part of before their enlightenment. Still, like you I am fascinated by it.

Green Eagle said...

I'm not a political scientist, but I am a long observer of the political scene, and based on my experience, I entirely agree with your son's conclusions.

What concerns me is not the results of this poll, but the fact that, once again, the press will not report anything negative about Republicans without deliberately making an effort to leave people believing that the Democrats are just as bad.