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Columnist: No, Polls Aren’t Skewed, But Media Coverage Does Impact The Vote

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait takes on the claim that most political polls are skewed to favor President Obama, a claim that has been making the rounds on the conservative political blogs, and more recently on Fox News Channel:


Chait notes that no, the polls are not a vast media conspiracy to help President Obama, but he also makes  persuasive argument that the type of political coverage that dominated TV news–horse race coverage–can have an impact on the election.

The conspiracy may be crazy, but it is surely true that rampant horse race coverage affects the outcome of the race. It may not be original to point this out, but it’s true — campaign coverage devotes far too much attention to which candidate is winning, and far too little time to conveying information that voters might use to make up their minds. Instead, the horse race coverage takes the place of the substantive coverage, and the candidate with the lead appears decisive and competent, and the trailing candidate faintly ridiculous.

A good deal of what undecided voters who are just now tuning in will learn about Romney is that he’s a loser disdained by fellow Republicans. Conservative rage over this fact may be utterly misplaced, but the sentiment itself is perfectly understandable.

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