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A full-page ad in Tuesday's New York Times questions the truth of a Gallup poll that showed George W. Bush in the lead by 14 points. The ad, by MoveOn.org, accused Gallup of being way off-base, compared to other polls, which averaged only a three-point Bush lead.

"This isn't the first time the prestigious Gallup survey has been out on a limb with pro-Bush findings," according to the ad. Gallup predicts that more Republicans will vote in November than Democrats. Exit polls show more Democrats will vote, says MoveOn, and George Gallup Jr., son of the poll's founder, refuses to fix his faulty methodology. "What's going on here?" asks MoveOn.

Well, you see, Gallup knows the influence its polls wield, MoveOn says. If the public perceives one candidate to be winning, more voters will side with the winning candidate. Journalists cover the polls, pundits comment on them, and the public is fooled into thinking Bush will win. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But why does Gallup want Bush to win?

MoveOn suggests it's all because Gallup Jr. "is a devout evangelical Christian." Gasp!

Gallup "has been quoted as calling his polling 'a kind of ministry.' And a few months ago, he said 'the most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God,'" the ad says. "We thought the purpose [of polling] is to faithfully and factually report public opinion."

...

Besides, as Jim Rutenberg, of The New York Times, notes, it's all about killing the messenger when you don't like the message. "Many pollsters … said their more vociferous critics were often trying to shout down messengers delivering news that runs counter to the version of reality they want to see presented." Rutenberg says that nearly every pollster this election ...

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September 2004

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