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Was a much-ballyhooed Fox News poll that showed a majority of voters in favor of impeaching the president a rigged survey? That’s what some are claiming after looking at the sample size.
If you’re the type who pays attention to politics or decided to tune in thanks to the impeachment ruckus, you’ve probably seen the poll. It was the clearest sign yet that the president is in political trouble with the American people: 51 percent of respondents said they were in favor of impeaching and removing President Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal.
Another 4 percent wanted him impeached but not removed, because apparently there’s nothing like a national soap opera without consequence. (Of course, this is how any form of impeachment will likely end — given the facts we know, the politicized nature of the charges and the composition of the Senate.)
Forty percent, meanwhile, didn’t want him impeached at all.
President Trump, who has stepped up his criticism of Fox News in recent months, was none too happy about the poll — although one wonders if part of the issue had to do with the glee with which the media reported it.
“On Thursday morning, Mr. Trump lashed out at Fox News over a poll it commissioned on attitudes toward the impeachment inquiry,” The New York Times reported, noting a tweet from the president that read, “I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck.”
The Daily Beast also took great joy in pointing out some Fox News personalities had similar issues with their network’s own poll.
The article’s headline, “Fox News Host Slams Fox Poll Showing Most Americans Approve Impeachment,” appeared below the words “Doesn’t Count.”
“Fox News host Greg Gutfeld on Thursday blasted his network’s most recent poll finding a majority of registered voters want President Donald Trump impeached and removed from office over the Ukraine scandal, claiming it was unfairly biased towards Democrats and that ‘these polls have been known to be wrong,’” the article began.
Oh, the old “fake news” gambit! Those Fox News agitprop flunkies. They can’t even accept reality even if it comes from their own network!
Except Gutfeld’s criticism of the poll was totally legitimate.
“I’ve been seeing this poll everywhere and I know it’s a Fox News poll but we got to point out that it’s weighted toward Democrats,” Gutfeld said.
“From what I’ve seen, it’s 48 percent Democrats, 40 percent Republicans, 12 percent other. So it’s weighted for that.”
And that’s the issue here: Fox News’ poll doesn’t necessarily represent reality, at least in terms of the sample that it chose.
The latest survey on the topic from Gallup, taken last month, shows that 31 percent of Americans consider themselves Democrats, 29 percent consider themselves Republicans and 38 percent consider themselves independents.
However, in Fox News’ poll, which sampled 1,003 voters, the percentages were exactly as Gutfeld said they were. This is a problem for two major reasons.
The first, obviously, is that the margin between self-identified Democrats and Republicans is not nearly how they’re represented in Fox News’ poll. That’s minor, however, when you consider how massively independents are underrepresented in the poll — particularly when you realize their opinions on impeachment.
Independent voters, who would normally be the largest voting bloc, are instead a distant third among voters sampled for the poll — and they opposed impeachment by a margin of 47 percent to 39 percent.
Did Fox set out to rig the poll? Did they take a truly random sample and end up with a skewed result?
Either way, this poll isn’t exactly news when it’s weighted the way it is. It produced predictable results — 85 percent of Democrats wanted impeachment and removal compared to 13 percent of Republicans. And then there are those independent numbers.
Gutfeld also made another point we should all keep in mind: This was taken during the “fever pitch of media coverage about a single topic.”
Let’s see if there’s anything resembling the kind of fervor for impeaching Trump as any memory of the Ukrainian call fades and the Democrat rhetoric about how this was The Worst Thing Ever™ abates.
It doesn’t matter that Fox News’ name is on this poll. Let’s see where it is in two months with a different sample. Then we’ll talk.