Politifact Blows It Bigtime

Fact-checking sites are handy and I love them but you still gotta be familiar with this stuff yourself and read the entire article, not just the summary.

Case in point: Politifact says a claim about high support for the public option is false because it relies on outdated polling and suspect language.

Reality: A poll came out last week from a different firm, using the same language and concluding that support has risen 1%. The idea that the language is suspect relies on a ridiculously narrow interpretation of the language. (“People who responded in favor of a public option may have been responding in favor of the choice of having a public option or not rather than in support of the public option itself.”)

We’ll see if they respond.

I really think you guys have blown it here.

a) Research2k did a poll just this last week where they used the exact same language as the NBC/WSJ poll from 2 months ago. 77% were in favor. You probably want to remove the part where you’re trashing the citation as “outdated” and implying that the other polls are any more/less valid because of it.

b) The logical flow makes my head hurt, but if I’m reading this correctly the argument over language seems to be that in the wording used by NBC/WSJ and R2k, people could be responding positively because they are in favor of the option of a public option but not in favor of the public option itself. It seems to me that you are slicing it ridiculously thin here, as the public option isoptional in the first place. How could it be possible to support the choice of having an option without supporting the existence of that option in and of itself? Do we really think that a high percentage of respondents were expressing support for a choice they don’t think should exist?

I’m a regular reader of Politifact. Given how even-handed you generally seem to be I’m pretty surprised at this. You completely missed a current poll that reflects the exact figure you’re disputing and while I can understand quibbling over the language I fail to see how “there are various ways to interpret these polls depending on one’s assumptions about the language used” translates to “these polls clearly demonstrate that this claim is absolutely false.” This is Half True if you ask me.

I was wrong in the email, it was SurveyUSA not Research2000.


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