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CNN’s Poll vs. CNN’s Spin

CNN’s poll of debate viewers blares a puzzling headline: “Round 1 in debate goes to Obama, poll says.”

But the poll itself actually doesn’t say that. This is blatant editorializing on the part of CNN. The first problem is the numbers:

Fifty-one percent of those polled thought Obama did the better job in Friday night’s debate, while 38 percent said John McCain did better.

Buried way, way down at the bottom of the story — hopefully, one surmises, past the point where anyone would read — is the following:

The results may be favoring Obama simply because more Democrats than Republicans tuned in to the debate. Of the debate-watchers questioned in this poll, 41 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 30 percent as independents.

I’m far from being a polling expert, but this is obviously a slanted poll. A 14-point split between Republican and Democrat respondents? And what percentage of those “independents” were leaners for Obama?

That’s bad enough, but the really egregious part is CNN’s blatant reportage of opinion as fact, which allowed the creation of a news story announcing Obama’s victory.

“It can be reasonably concluded, especially after accounting for the slight Democratic bias in the survey, that we witnessed a tie in Mississippi tonight,” CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib said. “But given the direction of the campaign over the last couple of weeks, a tie translates to a win for Obama.”

Oh, so actually the debate was a tie. But according to somebody named Alan Silverleib, a tie means a win for Obama — ergo: “Round 1 in debates goes to Obama, poll says.” But even CNN’s “Senior Political Researcher” says that the poll didn’t say that! The headline should have been written, “Round 1 in debates goes to Obama, Silverleib says.”

And now we can write: Round 1 in the contest to see who’s most in the tank for Obama goes to CNN.