Republicans are clinging to headlines this Wednesday morning claiming Hillary Clinton’s unpopular rating is on par with Donald Trump’s, according to a new ABC poll. But the entire poll actually says something different.
ABC’s headline started this:
Here’s the poll:
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) August 31, 2016
This is more an indictment of the press’ failure to explain things and put things in context than it is Hillary Clinton, but that’s irrelevant when it comes to the impact this has on the public, so let’s unpack it.
Here’s where the headlines come from, via ABC:
“Among all adults, 56 percent now view Clinton unfavorably, up 6 percentage points in three weeks, compared to 63 percent who say the same about Trump.
Among registered voters, the two candidates have near-identical unfavorable ratings: 59 percent for Clinton vs. 60 percent for Trump.”
ABC used the one piece of data in their poll that fit the story that they wanted to push. The media is conveniently ignoring the rest of the poll:
Hillary Clinton is actually six points higher in favorability, and seven points lower in unfavorability for a net (+13) over Trump. However, the press is pushing the false equivalency that Trump and Clinton are equally unpopular because they can’t ignore the reality that Trump is losing in every poll.
One of the consistencies of the 2016 campaign has been a close relationship between Clinton’s approval ratings and the tone of the media coverage that she is getting. When Hillary Clinton gets a spate of bad media coverage her favorables drop. When she gets good coverage, they rise.
Guess what kind of coverage she got after some in the mainstream press embraced the Republican idea that the Clinton Foundation was a “scandal”?
So, the media can thank itself for putting Hillary Clinton anywhere near Donald Trump in popularity. Well done, because obviously these issues are totally on par with Donald Trump’s massive abuse of power as a “businessman” and consistent problems with ethics as evidenced by the never-ending stream of lawsuits he is entangled in, including the deposition stemming from one lawsuit that revealed Trump’s constant stream of lies.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally unpopular by one measurement but two other measurements in the same poll explain why the Democrat is winning.
The press is trying to build a horse race out of nothing, and in order accomplish this journalistic sleight of hand they constructing a house built out of straw that is easily blown down by data and facts.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.