Friday, October 10, 2008


A new Fox News poll shows Barack Obama with a 7-point lead over John McCain, with 51% of voters thinking McCain is running a negative campaign (compared to 27% who think he's running a positive one), while Obama's numbers are 41% positive, 26% negative.

But Fox polls are peculiar. They're generally done is a respectable fashion -- up to the last few questions, which are often used to reinforce right-wing media attacks on Democrats. For instance, in February, Fox pollsters asked, "Who do you think terrorist leader Usama bin Laden wants to win the presidential election?" (Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama beat John McCain.) And in July there were several push-poll-style questions, including "Have you heard any of your friends and neighbors say there is something about Barack Obama that scares them?" (Admittedly, this was also asked about McCain -- but it wasn't being said about McCain at the time.)

In the current poll (PDF), we have this -- and I'll highlight a key phrase, so you notice how relentlessly it's stressed:

As you may know, Barack Obama has distanced himself from his former pastor Jeremiah Wright because of controversial and anti-American comments Wright made. Obama attended Rev. Wright's church for about 20 years. Obama says he did not hear Wright make anti-American comments during the time he went to church there. Do you believe Obama attended Rev. Wright's church for 20 years and didn't hear him make anti-American comments during that time?

And that's followed by this:

There has been some discussion of Barack Obama's relationship with the former radical activist William Ayers. Because Ayers is linked to plots to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol in the 1970s, and because Ayres recently said he wished he had done more, some people say Obama's association with Ayers calls into question his judgment. Does Obama's connection with Ayers make you less likely to vote for him for president or does it not really make a difference to your vote?

And, yes, there's a question (only one) about John McCain's past -- but note the key phrase:

As you may know, there has been some discussion of John McCain's involvement with Charles Keating, of the so-called Keating Five savings and loan scandal of the 1980s. McCain was cleared of all charges and ethical complaints, but some people think McCain's past association with Charles Keating still calls into question his judgment. Does McCain's past connection with Keating make you less likely to vote for him for president or does it not really make a difference to your vote?

Oh, and notice that it's "McCain's past connection with Keating," but "Obama's connection with Ayers" -- no "past."

Does it accomplish anything to push-poll a few hundred people in an election in which 100 million or so will vote? I doubt it. But it makes the wingnuts happy.

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