During MSNBC's coverage following the vice presidential debate, Scarborough Country host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL) claimed that Americans who had indicated in an MSNBC online poll that Senator John Edwards defeated Vice President Dick Cheney in the debate had been "drinking vodka." Then, apparently after silently reading the results of a CBS poll that also showed that Edwards had won, Scarborough crumpled up the paper showing the results and threw it away, saying, "since it's CBS, we're not going to give you the results." He did, however, report the results of an ABC poll that showed Cheney as the victor, but he failed to note that the survey disproportionately polled Republicans.
From MSNBC's After Hours, broadcast during the early morning hours of October 6:
SCARBOROUGH: Go to MSNBC.com, and maybe you'll be drinking the same kind of vodka that 68 percent of our viewers [the percentage who at that time had said Edwards won the debate] have been drinking when they went on the Internet and cast their vote.
SCARBOROUGH: There are a couple of polls out there, other than the ones that you all drinking vodka at home have been doing. CBS poll, 178 uncommitted voters -- but since it's CBS, we're not going to give you the results. ABC did the same thing; Dick Cheney won by about five percentage points. But it's a tight breakdown. The chattering classes have given this to Dick Cheney in a landslide. You all seem to disagree.
The MSNBC online poll's final result showed that 59 percent of those who voted believed Edwards won the debate, compared with 41 percent who believed Cheney won. The CBS poll, the results of which Scarborough chose not to report, surveyed undecided voters and showed that 41 percent saw Edwards as the winner; 28 percent thought Cheney won; and 31 percent considered the debate a draw.
The ABC poll results showed that Cheney won the debate by eight points: 43 percent of those voting believed Cheney won, compared with 35 percent who thought Edwards won, and 19 percent who saw it as a tie. But the ABC poll did not do "the same thing" as the CBS poll, as Scarborough claimed. The ABC poll surveyed registered voters, rather than undecided voters, and as Media Matters for America has documented, the ABC poll was skewed in favor of Republicans by seven points. Republican voters comprised 38 percent of the poll's participants; Democrats and Independents comprised 31 percent and 27 percent of respondents, respectively.
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