Radio NZ gets US election news wrong

Yesterday Radio NZ News reported that:

“Democrat Barack Obama’s lead over Republican John McCain in the United States presidential race has dropped to 3 points. That’s according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll which says Senator Obama leads his rival by 48 to 45% among likely American voters, down 1 percentage point. The four-day tracking poll has a margin of error of 2.9 points.”

What’s wrong with that?

Well, for a start, reporting any single poll as though it is fact — “has dropped to 3 points” — is arrant nonsense. It’s an insult to the listeners’ intelligence. Report the averages of the polls, if you must.

Worse, not only is Zogby just one tracking poll out of seven currently publishing results in the US (not to mention all the other regular polls being reported at this point in the race), it has consistently shown Obama’s support as lower than the others:

See those black dots below all the others, Radio NZ? That’s the poll whose results you have chosen to highlight. Dumb.

Why cherry-pick the most unfavourable poll? This is exactly what Fox News and Drudge (here for details of Drudge’s bad spin) have been doing all week, in order to try to launch their “Comeback” narrative for McCain. But Radio NZ isn’t part of the Republican propaganda machine, is it?

No, it did this because it used a news service that, like the others, misuses polls to try to make elections more interesting. It was lazy and/or ignorant.

Reporting their daily tracking poll results (Obama 51% to McCain 46%) this morning, highly respected pollster Rasmussen notes:

“Obama’s support has ranged from 50% to 52% every day for twenty-four straight days while McCain’s total has been between 44% and 46% during those days. Prior to today, Obama had led by four or five points every day for the past week. The week before, the Democrat was up by five to eight points each day (see trends).”

Not nearly as interesting is it?

We taxpayers pay good money for a news service that is a cut above the commercial crowd, Radio New Zealand. You must do better than this.

The full picture

The full picture, courtesy pollster.com

Update: Since posting yesterday, the RealClearPolitics poll average has increased Obama’s lead from 5.0% to 5.8%. And the Zogby poll? It now shows a 6% gap. And no mention of polls by Drudge for the first time in a week or more. Funny that.

Update2: Oops! Monday night’s Zogby poll has Obama 50.3%, McCain 42.4%. Nary a mention on Drudge or Faux News. Or Radio New Zealand.

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3 Responses to “Radio NZ gets US election news wrong”

  1. adamsmith1922 Says:

    Why on earth would you expect any sound analysis from a NZ media outlet?

    At the present Sounds Like Helen has only one aim in life.

    Adam, Since you ask, the reason is that, lacking the commercial imperative to attract listeners in order to sell their ears to advertisers, Radio NZ is not subject to the same pressure to sensationalise and dumb down. Generally, it does a good job at providing a higher quality news service, but that is no reason to overlook lapses such as this.

  2. Jono Says:

    Haha. I think the “commentators” at Radio New Zealand, or for that matter, most New Zealand coverage of the election would be better off by just reading out the daily reports from fivethirtyeight.com – it would’ve been a lot more interesting and informative than their “anaylsis” in that article.

    Jono, I’m sure Nate Silver would be chuffed at your endorsement, with which I heartily agree.

  3. Redbaiter Says:

    See where your buddy Boris gets it wrong too Pete. Always knew he was an idiot. The right need jerkoffs like him like they need holes in their heads.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/10/21/do2101.xml

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