On Tuesday, Donald Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson took a page from her boss and touted Trump’s performance in post-debate online polls that have no scientific accuracy whatsoever.
After conservative talk show host Joe Pags told Pierson that “news organization polling” is tilted against Trump because media outlets “have some sort of vested interested in getting Hillary Clinton elected,” Pierson said that the scientific polls conducted by media firms are “skewed.”
Pierson vigorously defended the accuracy of voluntary, unscientific online polls: “When you look at the online polls, these are people who are, like I said, not engaged in the day-to-day, 24-hour news cycle, watching cable news all day every day, these are just people. If you’re looking at Time magazine, if you’re on another website and they’re doing a poll and you vote in that poll, by the way, to the tune of over a million votes in some of these polls, that’s important, because those aren’t the people who are in it one way or another, a lot of those people are just engaging.”
However, just the opposite typically occurs, as many online surveys are swarmed by one candidate’s supporters, such as this online poll of around 300,000 votes that found Green Party nominee Jill Stein leading the presidential field with close to 65 percent of the vote.
Fox News’ vice president of public opinion research, Dana Blanton, had to release a memo reaffirming the uselessness of online polls after several Fox News anchors hyped online polls after the debate. (Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade, however, continued to cite Trump’s strong performance in such polls after the memo was released). Business Insider reports:
A Fox News executive sent a memo to television producers and the politics team on Tuesday afternoon reminding employees that unscientific online polls “do not meet our editorial standards.”
Dana Blanton, the vice president of public-opinion research at Fox News, explained in the memo obtained by Business Insider that “online ‘polls’ like the one on Drudge, Time, etc. where people can opt-in or self-select … are really just for fun.”
“As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can’t be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate,” Blanton wrote.
As the Fox News executive pointed out, users who participate in such polls must have internet access, be online at the time of the poll, be fans of the website in question, and self-select to participate.
“Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results,” she wrote. “These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards.”
“News networks and other organizations go to great effort and rigor to conduct scientific polls — for good reason,” Blanton wrote in the memo. “They know quick vote items posted on the web are nonsense, not true measures of public opinion.”
However, we won’t hold our breath for Trump and his campaign to stop promoting the results of unscientific polls as long as they turn out favorable to them.