Minnesota Independent: Wily Fox 9 warps results of AP Yahoo poll on voters’ racist views

Minnesota Independent (9/22/08)

Wily Fox 9 warps results of AP Yahoo poll on voters’ racist views

Fox 9 News anchor Marni Hughes asked the question Sunday night: What role will race play in the November election? The answer she provided came from the latest AP Yahoo poll released over the weekend. As she told the tale (reinforced by text on screen), one-third of white Democrats reported harboring some negative attitudes toward African-Americans. That rose to 40 percent, she said, when white Republican and independent voters were added to the mix.

Judging from that presentation, a viewer with 7th-grade math skills could deduce that almost half of the white Republican and independent voters must hold those racist beliefs, since adding them to the pool of white Democrats raised the percentage from 33 to 40 percent.

And that means Fox 9 also have presented the same facts this way: Almost half of the country’s white Republican and independent voters hold racist views of black people, but when you add in survey results from white Democratic voters, that percentage drops to 40 percent.

Yet the pollsters’ own presentation seems to fall short of the mark. The AP’s glib conclusion that non-Democrat racism against Sen. Barack Obama isn’t an issue (”Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown”) recalls the logic that rich and poor alike are banned from sleeping under bridges.

Setting aside whether AP Yahoo pollsters asked the right questions of the right people, they aren’t providing the right results to anybody. Nowhere does it appear that either outfit saw fit to break down the racist responses by party affiliation. AP’s report doesn’t have a multi-party breakdown, and neither does Yahoo’s “interactive” Web feature (where interactivity amounts to clicking through more graphs, none of which illuminate the racism-by-party-affiliation point). At Yahoo’s news report the racist views of voters by all three political party groupings appear only in a sidebar graph, without hard numbers. Most egregiously of all, the answers don’t show up in the 20-page PDF of poll results where inquisitive minds should be able to find the facts behind the graphs.

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