CBS didn't randomly phone registered voters. They didn't weight the poll for age, race, gender and political affiliation. Instead, they chose to poll a group of people prior to Obama's speech about Wright. The poll asked respondents their opinions about Wright and his views.
Then CBS later re-polled the exact same group to gauge their reactions to Obama's speech. Based on those two separate pollings, the network extrapolated the result that "Sixty-nine percent of voters who have heard or read about Obama's speech think he did a good job addressing the issue of race relations."
Unbelievable! Had my firm employed these types of polling tactics, pundits and alleged "polling experts" would have torn us to pieces.
To fully understand how CBS's methodology here was biased and flawed, let's use common sense.
First, you get a call from CBS pollsters, prior to the Obama speech, asking you what you think about Wright and those of his past views that have made for controversy in the news lately. You answer the survey.
Now you are keenly aware of the issue, because you have just been polled about it, probably in some detail.
Would it not follow that you are more likely now to pay close attention to the issue? To view the speech, or read it word for word? Of course.
Can we really believe that the people at CBS, who are obviously bright, didn't understand the likely impact that the results of their first poll would have on the second poll of the exact same people? That's not a random poll. It's a giant focus group.
For CBS to represent that calling the same group twice on the same issue is a reflection of American public sentiment is a farce. This so-called poll was the very sort of fast and loose twist on legitimate polling and journalism that has so many Americans mistrustful of national media. This was nothing less than a case of network-distributed damage control on behalf of Barack Obama. It's that simple.
As for our poll of the same situation: At least I was fair enough to admit that I can't yet say that Obama's speech has severely damaged his ultimate chances of becoming president. That, even though our survey showed many respondents indicating they were less likely to vote for Obama after the Wright comments and the Obama speech. And I don't have to survey the same people I surveyed last week to prove my own theory.