Politico ‘breaking news’ report botches Des Moines Register poll results

David Martosko Executive Editor
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With just days remaining until the all-important Republican Iowa caucuses, a left-leaning political newspaper based near the nation’s capital made a critical error in reporting the results of the final Des Moines Register opinion poll before voters gather Tuesday.

On Saturday evening Politico incorrectly reported that the poll showed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum “climbing to second [place] at 21 percent and Ron Paul in third, with 18 percent.” In fact, Paul took second place with 22 percent of the vote. Santorum was third with 15 percent.

The faulty report was issued via email as a “Politico Breaking News” alert. Politico sent a second email shortly afterward with the correct poll results, stipulating that “[t]his breaking news alert corrects a previous breaking news alert.”

Both emails correctly noted that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took first place with the support of 24 percent of those polled.

Politico’s error appears to have been the result of misreading the poll results, which had Santorum surging to second place during the final two days of the poll’s four-day period. But Paul was second overall.

Participants of online forums managed by Ron Paul supporters were predictably miffed at Politico for demoting their chosen candidate. In one such forum, epithets hurled at the Northern Virginia news outlet included “really pathetic,” “establishment DC rag” and “fucking typical.”

Phone messages left for four top Politico editors were not returned. A fifth, reached by phone, would not speak on the record but promised a return call from someone who would. No such call was received.

David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor. Follow him on Twitter