Opinion

The Problems With Fox News’ Bogus Impeachment Poll

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Posted: Oct 14, 2019 12:01 AM
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The Problems With Fox News’ Bogus Impeachment Poll

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Trump supporters should brace themselves for a LOT of disappointing polls between now and election day. As we know from 2016, however, disappointing polls don’t necessarily mean sure defeat, but that doesn’t stop the media and others from using them to push their anti-Trump narrative. One recent example is a Wednesday-released Fox News poll, taken October 6 - 8 during the heated national discussed about President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call to the president of Ukraine. Supposedly, according to this poll, 51 percent – a slim one, but nevertheless a majority of Americans – want Trump not only impeached in the House, but convicted in the Senate and removed from office.

“Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office,” read the Fox News lede from Wednesday. The 51 percent signified a shocking 9 percent jump from when the ‘I’ question was last posed in July.

Let that sink in. If this poll is correct, a majority of this country wants to see Trump removed from office for the ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ (apparently) of asking Ukraine to investigate (not fabricate, but investigate) possible crimes. Though, as stated above, I’m used to and even expect negative polling. My ‘spidey sense’ started tingling as soon as this one hit and the media narrative started to build. Sure, plenty of Americans don’t like Trump, but if a true majority have been duped by this Ukraine nonsense into thinking NOW is the time to tear this country apart by actually removing a sitting president, we’re farther down the rabbit hole than I ever imagined. 

Something had to be amiss. And indeed, something WAS amiss, as the Trump campaign was quick to point out. Turns out, Fox News made the same seeming mistake the vast majority of pollsters regularly make - they included significantly more Democrats than Republicans in their sample.

“It’s not hard to get 51 percent in favor of impeachment when nearly half of those polled were Democrats,” a Trump campaign official told the Daily Caller in a Thursday statement. “The media should put this poll where it belongs – in the garbage.”

I concur, and here’s why:

In fact, 48 percent, or nearly half, of the Fox News poll’s 1,003 respondents self identified as Democrats. Republicans came in at 40 percent, an eight percent decrease, with the other 12 percent being Independents.

First of all, are there really 8 percentage points separating Republicans from Democrats in this country? The answer is, not even close. According to Gallop’s last analysis, 31 percent of Americans identify as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans, and the rest - a whopping 38 percent - actually identify as Independents. So the question to Fox News on their latest polling data isn’t merely why fewer Republicans were polled than Democrats, but also why were Independents almost criminally underrepresented?

Consider, of the around 120 Independents who WERE included in the poll, only 39 percent support actually removing Trump from office, versus 47 percent who do not and 14 percent who don’t know. If the sampling of Independents were closer to the true national representation, would we have a number that even approaches a national majority supporting the president’s removal?

It’s almost as if this poll and others like it are meant to create, not measure, public opinion. Oddly, it’s not like the pollsters, at least at Fox News, aren’t capable of being more even-handed. The January poll comprised 41 percent Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, and 20 percent Independent. The network’s July polling sample, the last one with a question about impeachment, included 46 percent Democrats and 15 percent Independents, a 5 percent shift that, while still leaning heavily Democratic and under representing Independents, might have failed to, you know, shift the freaking national narrative to that of a MAJORITY of Americans supposedly supporting removing the president from office. 

Finally, the question itself is troubling, at least in my opinion. The actual question on impeachment reads this way: "Do you think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, or not?"

What if you support an official impeachment inquiry, as many Republicans do, which would allow them subpoena power to mount a defense of the president as well as dig into the various Democratic scandals? What if you want to teach Trump a ‘lesson’ of sorts by having the House impeach, but don’t want him convicted in the Senate and removed because, maybe, you respect the will of the electorate in 2016? There is no room for any of those variances in the poll, only whether you want him “impeached and removed from office.” Those are two separate issues! 

If a poll is going to cover the impeachment topic, it should include the following questions:

“Do you support an official impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives?”

“Do you believe the House should vote to impeach President Trump?”

“If the House votes to impeach, do you think two-thirds of the Senate should vote to convict and remove President Trump from office for high crimes and misdemeanors?”

Those questions, and an even-handed representation of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, would have almost certainly resulted in a whole other narrative than what we received last week.