Washington Examiner Treats Focus Group Spin As News

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard today announces as fact that young voters are angry with Obama and may soon abandon his re-election campaign:

They lapped up President Obama's 2008 promise of "hope" and "change," but his inability to deliver has turned younger voters cynical and disillusioned, according to a new analysis of 18-29-year-olds who backed the president but are now skeptical of him.

Bedard's source for the sweeping revelation? A Republican pollster, back from two focus groups, told Bedard it was true.

Well, in that case.

What's curious is that neither the pollster nor Bedard point to any polling data to back up the claim about young voters and Obama. And Bedard does not link to any focus group analysis done by the pollster. What's also curious is that Bedard ignores Gallup's most recent polling which finds Obama with a gaping, 35-point lead over Mitt Romney among those voters.

According to Gallup, Obama enjoys tremendous support among young voters. But the Washington Examiner's Bedard prefers a different take on the news so he ignores actual polls and instead pretends focus group comments provided by one Republican pollster means the opposite is true. The Washington Examiner quotes a GOP pollster who in turn quotes an anonymous voter and then the Examiner publishes that as definitive proof that voters are turning on Obama?

Note that last week the Washington Examiner used the the same dubious approach when it claimed "resentful" blue-collar voters were furious at the president because of the number of vacations the Obamas take. Once again no polling data was included in the piece, and the fact that Obama currently leads in blue-collar, toss-up states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania was not addressed.

So what was the proof for the far-reaching deduction that blue-collar voters resent Obama? A single Republican pollster, back from Pittsburgh and Cleveland focus groups, claimed "many" voters were upset about the first family's vacations. (Only one actual voter was referenced in the Examiner report, via a second-hand quote by the pollster.)

Reporting the spin that flows from focus groups and treating that as news represents suspect journalism. Pretending that one or two comments from focus groups, as relayed by partisan pollsters, means entire voting blocks are shifting ("Young Obama Voters Turn on President"), borders on the absurd.

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