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Monday, August 11, 2008

Rasmussen: Voters Say Media Bias Bigger Problem than Campaign Money


Based on Rasmussen poll results reported today, it looks like twenty or so years of very hard work by the Media Research Center [1] and affiliates, including just over three years at NewsBusters [1], has paid some dividends.

Despite the years of hype over how money is the root of all campaigning evil by the press, the respected polling organization reports voters' belief that there is a bigger problem in political campaigns: media bias.

Here is some of what today's report [2] says:

Voters overwhelmingly believe that politicians will “break the rules to help people who give them a lot of money,” but most say there’s a bigger problem in politics today—media bias.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 55% believe media bias is more of a problem than big campaign contributions. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and think that campaign cash is a bigger problem.

People believe media bias is a bigger problem even though 63% believe most politicians will break the rules to help campaign contributors. Just 14% believe most politicians would refrain from breaking the rules for a donor. Forty-four percent (44%) say that lobbyists and campaign contributors have too much influence on John McCain’s positions. Forty percent (40%) say the same about Barack Obama.

Just 22% believe it would be a good idea to ban all campaign commercials so that voters could receive information on the campaign only from the news media and the internet. Sixty-six percent (66%) disagree and think that, despite the annoyance factor, it’s better to put up with an election-year barrage of advertising rather than rely on the news media.

Especially crucial is the view of independents: "Among those not affiliated with either major party, 47% say media bias is the problem while 43% hold the opposite view."

This means that at least half, and probably more, of swing voters are on the alert for biased reporting. It's probably more than that, because it's possible to believe that bias is a significant problem while believing that money is a bigger one. Dovetail that with an earlier Rasmussen poll showing that voters believe overwhelmingly [3] that "most reporters are trying to help Barack Obama win the election this year" (49%, vs. only 14% who believe they're helping McCain) and it seems very likely that Barack Obama won't be getting the degree of default acceptance from voters that Bill Clinton largely received in 1992.

That would be progress.

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