WaPo's Electoral Moratorium Pollaganda

Pollsters are aghast at purported significant support among the GOP for an electoral moratorium. But there's more to the story...

Jordan Candler · Aug. 10, 2017

Pollsters from Yeshiva University and the University of Pennsylvania yielded a survey that showed relatively significant support for an electoral moratorium among Republicans anxious about voter fraud. Among the survey questions were two gauging Republican voters’ sentiments over a theoretical situation in which Donald Trump and/or Congress prescribed delaying the 2020 election “until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote.” The pollsters were aghast at the results.

According to their Washington Post analysis, “52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.”

The pollsters do (later) admit, “Of course, our survey is only measuring reactions to a hypothetical situation. Were Trump to seriously propose postponing the election, there would be a torrent of opposition, which would most likely include prominent Republicans.” But none of this is reflected in the headline, which intentionally tries to label the majority of Republicans as a bunch of nitwits.

Furthermore, even after their so-called disclaimer, the authors do some editorializing by asserting their findings demonstrate “that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied).” There are a plethora of problems with this suggestion, as outlined by National Review’s Dan McLaughlin.

“The Post does not provide the full sequence of the questions,” he writes, “which itself is somewhat suspicious given the well-known ability of ‘troll polls’ to get answers they want by priming respondents with a series of leading questions.” We in our humble shop refer to this as the pollaganda effect — polls used to drive rather than reflect public opinion.

Then there’s the issue of cross-aisle similarities. As McLaughlin ponders, “How does the result compare to how Democrats or independents would answer the same or a similar question? Again, the Post doesn’t disclose that.” McLaughlin points to a few double standards. Democrat congressmen Don Beyer and Jose Serrano each have advocated their own dubious electoral end runs in their party’s quest to retain control.

“Beyer proposed postponing the Electoral College vote until more information could be obtained on Russian interference in the 2016 election,” says McLaughlin, and “Serrano proposed repealing the 22nd Amendment to let President Obama run for a third term.” Moreover, citing a WPA Research poll, The Hill reported in June 2016, “A strong majority of Democrats would cancel the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if it meant President Obama could serve another term.” None of this is referenced in any of the aforementioned pollsters’ research.

McLaughlin makes this critical observation: “The great conceit of the media’s incessant attacks on the Republican voting base is not that Republicans include a lot of people who believe a lot of bad or untrue things. It’s that this isn’t also true of Democrats.” Charles C.W. Cooke, for his part, retorts, “Partisan troll polls trap both sides, tell us nothing interesting, and, ultimately, make us all stupider.” Well, it actually does tell us one thing: The media will do anything to fill up space and earn advertising revenue, preferably by making Republicans looks bad.

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