FAIR: Media “Opinion” Polls Replicate Bind Voter Already In

Janine Jackson at the media watch group FAIR recently noted:

Just recently, the Commission announced that the threshold for inclusion is based on public opinion—that’s to say, public opinion polls. Candidates must get 15 percent in polls conducted by five national organizations the group names. But there again, as journalist and activist Sam Husseini pointed out, the polls themselves have a way of tamping down interest in independent and third-party candidates.

The question they ask is generally a variant of “if the election were held today, for whom would you vote?”—which is subtly, but importantly,  different from asking people open-endedly who they want to be president. As it is, these polls sort of replicate the bind the voter is already in—especially at a time when record high numbers of people call themselves “independents,” and in a race in which many voters’ main reason for supporting one major party candidate is that they are not the other.

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