Friday, December 11, 2009

USA Today cherry picks poll data in Sarah Palin article

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In a feature article based on an interview with Sarah Palin, USA's Kathy Kiely cherry picked some old poll data to make the former governor appear to be less popular with the American public than she actually is:
"But even as her book sales soar, Palin remains a divisive figure in American politics. In an October Gallup Poll, 50% of those surveyed viewed the conservative Republican unfavorably, compared to 40% who had a favorable view."
That Gallup poll was conducted October 1-4, more than three two months ago. Since then, an Opinion Research poll conducted November 17-18 for FOX News found Sarah Palin's favorable rating to be 47 percent (and just 42 percent unfavorable), and another survey conducted by the same firm for CNN December 2-3 revealed her favorable rating to be 46 percent (with 46 percent unfavorable), just one point shy of Obama's.

This is par for the course for a left-leaning Gannett publication like USA Today, which ignored two more recent polls that show Sarah Palin's favorable ratings to be on the rise to reference a poll with findings that are no longer relevant. This is an attempt to hide the fact that Sarah Palin and President Obama are in a statistical tie in the way in which they are currently perceived by the public. She is no more "divisive" than is the president.

Kiely continues to hack at the former governor elsewhere in the article, labeling Sarah Palin's endorsement of New York Congressional candidate Doug Hoffman, a Republican running on the Conservative Party's ticket, as an "intervention." The writer fails to mention that Hoffman was also endorsed by a number of other high-profile politicians, including Tim Pawlenty, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, Sen. Jim Demint and Rep. John Shadegg. Kiely makes a point of noting that Hoffman lost the race, but ignores the narrow margin of the loss and implies that the results of that election should somehow reflect negatively on Sarah Palin. USA Today's writers appear to be working from DNC talking points.

Kiely also rather gratuitously, in our opinion, reaches all the way back to August to dredge up criticism of former Gov. Palin by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski for resigning as governor. Again the writer ignores context by failing to mention the bad blood between Sarah Palin and the Murkowski family which stems from the Palin defeat of the Senator's father in the 2006 Alaska race for governor.

There are some Palin positives in the article, so we won't call it a hit piece, but it is pretty much a hack job. While there is nothing in the article that we haven't heard before, one interesting piece of information was something to be expected:
"The political action committee Palin formed this year, SarahPAC, won't file its next public accounting until January. Palin aide Jason Recher reports 'a significant uptick' in fundraising since the book tour began Nov. 18."
Read the full article here, but consider the source and take it with at least a tablespoon of salt.

- JP
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