Daily Beast–Worst Poll Ever?

Mickey Kaus Columnist

Worst Poll Ever? Daily Beast‘s “Exclusive” Weinergate Survey: I always thought Newsweek‘s polls were thin and unreliable. This was only partly because I once worked there and witnessed the sausage being made. But Tina Brown has taken the organization to the next level of bogosity. Today, Newsweek‘s Beast subdivision published an “exclusive survey” that, the magazine boasts, “reveals that Weinergate has had little impact on whether New Yorkers would vote for him for mayor in 2013.”

 How did the site conduct this “exclusive survey”? They asked people they met on their way to Gray’s Papaya  “hit the streets of the Big Apple and conducted an informal survey of 100 New Yorkers.”  The poll is “not scientific”! But of those hundred (100) people asked, fully 71% said their opinion of Weiner hadn’t changed! This means, according to the Beast, that “[t]he Weiner haters can fugheddaboutit.” After all, “even though many believe the infamous grey underwear did indeed belong to Weiner, a majority of respondents—71 percent—said the news hadn’t changed their opinion of [him].”

Forget the kindergarten methodology–I think there’s a basic misunderstanding here, one that afflicts even post-scandal polls taken by adult news organizations. If you have a scandal, and “only” 29% of the people say they are less likely to vote for you, that doesn’t mean the scandal has had little effect on your chances (because a “majority” haven’t changed their mind). It means the scandal has had a huge potential effect on your chances. You’ve lost almost a third of your possible support! Maybe much of that 29% wouldn’t vote for Weiner anyway–but even a 10% loss of support is a big deal for a non-unopposed pol. That’s especially true for Weiner, who if he runs for mayor faces a potential multi-candidate race in which he has to beat several other, unscandalized Democrats. … If Obama had given up 10% of his support to McCain in 2008, he’d have lost. …


Conflict of interest disclosure–Possible reasons I might have it in for Newsweek/Daily Beast include: 1) This blog once was at Newsweek. Tina didn’t want it2) Their first issue was crap, and not holdover crap but corrupting new suck-up-to-Hillary-with-unreadable-cover-story-so-she’ll-come-to-your-BS-conference crap; 3) They are pursuing an outmoded big bucks/big hype model of journalism that rightfully doesn’t work so well any more, partly because it depends on fawning publicity-givers and sheep-like readers to overlook things like point (2); 4) They suck up to Hollywood studios and chase celebrity bylines; 5) The Beast site exudes a soul-deadening desperation in the pursuit of faux fun and engineered “buzz;” 6) It has a subtle, insidious liberal bias that is far more annoying than HuffPo‘s former straightforward liberal bias (see,e.g., “Weiner haters,” above) 7) The Beast‘s little news summaries read like they are written by 21 year old interns who don’t know what they are writing about (see, e.g., the Beast‘s obit blurb for Warren Christopher, which says, among other things, that “Christopher served as the overseer for the Florida election recount in 2000 before the Supreme Court stepped in and took over control.” Huh?)  8 ) They are a slow-moving, profusely bleeding target and attacking them is fun. …