Note: I refuse to link to the offending sites because it’s exactly what they want. If you need to check the articles for yourself, feel free to Google the headlines listed below.
At some point on Tuesday, word got out via Facebook that Reuters has a new nationwide poll showing Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by, well, the numbers vary greatly. And why do the numbers vary so much? Because nearly everyone who’s posted the poll results so far are being either deliberately misleading or they probably shouldn’t be messing around with an interactive polling app.
If you follow this link, you’ll see a rather damning poll in which Bernie is leading Hillary, 41.7 percent to 35.5 percent. Yooge! But what you might not notice right away is that the polling sample is 7,203 respondents. The sample size is so unnaturally massive because it’s not filtered to account for people who will actually vote in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Red flag, anyone?
Notice that just below the chart, there’s a series of drop-down menus where you can select various demographic filters to narrow the results of the poll. If you choose the standard parameters normally applied in respectable polling results from the “Political” menu, specifically party affiliation and voter registration status, Reuters shows an almost-tied race, with Hillary narrowly leading Bernie.
In other words, among registered Democrats, Hillary is winning by a couple tenths of a percentage point. Still good news for Bernie to be this close.
But here’s where the everything falls apart for Bernie supporters. If we choose the most accurate sample from the Political drop-down menu, specifically “likely Democratic primary voters,” Hillary leads by seven points. Again, it’s less positive news for Bernie and his supporters, but it’s still noteworthy that he’s closed such a wide gap against Hillary. That said, it’s obviously not the runaway shock poll some sites are ballyhooing today.
Among those sites, we see the Bernie propaganda outfit, US Uncut, which was the first to post the filter-free and highly misleading results. Headline: “Stunning New Reuters Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Leading Nationally by 6 Percent.”
The misleading results should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read US Uncut lately. The site isn’t interested in being honest with its readers. It’s a cheerleader site that will post anything that keeps Bernie supporters happy and doesn’t mellow their high. (I noted the misleading nature of the article on a Bernie Facebook page and was quickly told to stop “raining on Bernie supporters’ parade.”)
Additional posts with the erroneous polling results appeared on Inquisitr.com and Daily Kos. The former, with the headline, “Sanders Leads Clinton By Six Percent Nationally In New Poll,” noted that Bernie is leading by just under four points, 47.3 percent to 43.9 percent — not “six points” as noted in the headline. The Daily Kos diary entry, “Reuters: Bernie up 47%-44% Nationally among Democrats!”, published the same results as Inquisitr and US Uncut, but noted that the Reuters polling app is “a little screwy,” which is a way of saying that the author of the article didn’t know how to use the app. Consequently, the Daily Kos article links to results that are only filtered for “Democrats” and not registered Democrats, which means the results are more or less irrelevant.
This is all to say that online news sources appear to be getting lazier and more misleading, knowing that viewers hardly ever read links on social media with a critical eye. The rabidly pro-Bernie site, US Uncut, and its pro-Hillary counterpart, DailyNewsBin, aren’t legitimate news sites — nor are they legitimate opinion-journalism sites. They’re all about providing adrenaline for true believers, and they’re willing to cherry-pick and mislead in order to do it.
It appears as if we’re witnessing the next evolution of the fake news site. A year ago or so, we observed how non-satirical fake sites cynically deceived readers for the sake of generating clicks via social media. And now the same model is being applied to the 2016 presidential campaign. Sure, US Uncut and the like are a little more grounded in reality, but not enough reality to make it trustworthy.
All that matters are clicks. Facts and honesty be damned.
UPDATE 2: To its credit, the Inquisitr article has updated its reporting to correct the misinterpretation of the poll. This is how it’s supposed to work, so hats off to Inquisitr.
UPDATE: Common Dreams is the latest to publish the misleading results. Headline: “New Poll Shows Sanders Ahead of Clinton by Widest Margin Yet.” Author Nadia Prupis falsely claims that the results are drawn from “998 likely Democratic voters.” This is incorrect. If we filter for “likely Dem voters,” Hillary has a seven point lead — nearly opposite of the six-point Bernie advantage like the article claims.