Fox News host Bill O'Reilly didn't inform viewers of a Gallup poll's disproportionate Republican sample when he deceptively claimed, "According to a snap poll by Gallup, 74 percent of Americans thought the president's [June 28] speech was a good one." O'Reilly also posted an on-screen graphic that read, "Gallup: 74% of Americans liked the President's speech."
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup "flash poll" that O'Reilly cited did report that 74 percent of respondents had either a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" reaction to President Bush's speech on the war in Iraq. But O'Reilly did not tell viewers that 50 percent of the poll's 323 respondents were Republicans, while only 23 percent were Democrats.
As Media Matters for America has noted, this sample differs dramatically from the partisan makeup of the broader American public. In fact, the National Annenberg Election Survey found that 31.8 percent of registered voters were self-identified Republicans, compared to 34.6 percent who were self-identified Democrats, based on random samples covering 67,777 registered voters surveyed over 13 months from 2003 to 2004. Similarly, Gallup's own study, based on polling data from 37,000 interviews in 2004, found 34 percent of Americans self-identifying as Republicans; 34 percent self-identifying as Democrats; and 31 percent self-identifying as independents.
Additionally, because Gallup's flash poll was part of a broader "panel survey," the sample was not random. Rather, it included only people who agreed to take a survey; said they intended to watch the speech; actually watched the speech; and were at home and willing to be interviewed a second time when Gallup called back after the speech on the night of June 28.
Thus, Gallup's results simply do not support O'Reilly's assertion that "74% of Americans liked the President's speech." Rather, the poll indicates that 74 percent of the Republican-slanted polling sample said they were very or somewhat positive about the speech.
From the June 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: According to a snap poll by Gallup, 74 percent of Americans thought the president's speech was a good one. The left-wing media, however, did not see it that way. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times continue to pound the president for believing that Saddam's regime had any links to Al Qaeda or 9-11 and for fouling up the situation in Iraq in general.