Alexander's Column

Pollagandizing public opinion

Mark Alexander · Sep. 22, 2000

George Bush is maintaining marginal leads in two of the nation’s three national tracking polls. Battleground 2000 gives Bush 41, Gore 37. Rasmussen Research gives Bush 44, Gore 41. CNN/USA Today/Gallup, a media poll, gives Gore 48, Bush 44.

So why is it that most Americans are inundated with the hit-and-miss media polls du jour – all of which seem to indicate that Albert Gore has already won the campaign?

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who was a key strategist in Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, says that political scientists “talk about the bandwagon effect, that once a candidate gets in the zone, all of the coverage is good, almost no matter what happens, and when you’re out of the zone, even when you do things right, it goes against you.”

This “bandwagon effect” is an insidious process that The Federalist has written about in each election cycle, and which accounts for the fact that our editors rarely cite any poll result, favorable or unfavorable to conservative issues, in The Federalist.

Polling, especially media polling, is most often nothing more than deceitful, insidious lies masquerading as news – with the intended effect of influencing public opinion. In political cycles, media polls lead public opinion rather than reflect public opinion, and are, ultimately, self-fulfilling.

To better explain the process of polling as propaganda, we are reprinting two definitions from The Federalist Dictionary:

Pollaganda – n. 1. Media polling used to manipulate public opinion and advance a particular bias. This is primarily accomplished by television networks, on which most people rely for daily news. (Those who rely on print media for information are less likely to be subjected to extreme bias, and more inclined to discriminate between balanced and biased reporting.)

Pollagandize – v. 1. To engage in pollaganda. 2. The systematic propagation of television media polls to manipulate public opinion by: first, saturating viewers with “reporting” which reflects a doctrinal bias; second, designing and conducting public opinion surveys which reflect that bias; and third, further proselytizing viewers by treating media poll results as “news.” 3. Using pollaganda to induce “bandwagon psychology” (the human tendency to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority), thus driving public opinion toward the original media bias.

The Federalist is not suggesting that there is a deliberate media conspiracy to drive public opinion. The process is the consequential result of the media zeitgeist and culture, which are uniformly and profoundly liberal. Such liberalism has become so embedded within the collective consciousness of television talking heads that it flows freely in every broadcast.

This is not to say that there are not objective and thus, credible polls, such as Battleground 2000, which is conducted by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates and Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group. But even the most objective polls are eventually adulterated by the effect of pollaganda, as is the only poll that matters on Election Day – the voter poll.

There is little that conservatives can do to battle this phenomenon, though, when it is time for the next revolution, the literate will naturally recall this line from Dick The Butcher, one of Jack Cade’s gang in Shakespeare’s King Henry the VI, pt. 4: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Surely in the present day, Dick The Butcher would have suggested eliminating the netwonk talkingheads first – and then the trial lawyers!

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