When “Fake News” Becomes Propaganda

If you believe that Jon Ossoff is ahead of Karen Handel by 7 points, you probably live in a reality where Jason Carter is a US Senator from Georgia and Michele Nunn is Governor. Wherever that reality is, I hope it’s pleasant, in addition to being fact-free.

Those of us who are not window-licking morons know different.

The “poll” from Abt Associates and published by the AJC, was conducted poorly and without any detectable professional rigor. As a subscriber to the AJC, I am offended they even published it, but I have only sympathy for Greg Bluestein, Aaron Gould Sheinin and Kristina Torres, who did their best to report on the steaming pile of debacle. It’s not easy to polish poo, but they did a fairly good job.

Let’s start with the organization that conducted the poll, Abt Associates, which describes itself as “…a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development.” Missing from the company’s description of itself is the word “pollster.” (The link goes to their website, so check for yourselves.) Using a social justice warrior research organization to conduct a political poll is a poor decision on the AJC’s part. Calling it a “poll” is journalistic malpractice.

When you dive into the crosstabs and take a hard look at the respondents, you’ll find that 60% of them were contacted by cell phone. That’s nearly double the rate that any competent pollster would accept cell phone only voters skew younger, and lean more Democrat than the average voter. I hire pollsters for my clients, and would refuse to pay for a poll based on 60% cellphone responses.

Getting 60% of your responses via cell phone leads to a cohort that self-identifies as 29% Democrat, 28% Republican, and 33% Independent, and voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 55% to 45%. There is simply no way this represents reality in the 6th. Even Democrats admit the district leans Republican by 5% or so, and Jon Ossoff has run his entire campaign to the middle -spending millions of liberal donors’ money pretending to be a budget hawk hoping to root out “wasteful government spending.” And Donald Trump, like it or not, WON the district by nearly 2 points –he didn’t lose it by 10.

According to Abt’s Magic 8-Ball memo, among the 74 respondents who have already voted, Ossoff leads Handel by 31 points. The early voting data, (which is publicly available even to Abt Associates) flatly contradicts this. Republicans and leaners are turning out at a higher percentage than they did on April 18 –and there were more Republican than Democrat ballots cast that day.

The reality is that this race is as close as a sock to an ankle, which is in no way to try to spin Abt’s pathetic work into good news for Karen Handel. It’s a coin-toss. Landmark Communications (the official pollster for WSB-TV) published a real poll last week that said just that. The surprise is that a nothingburger candidate is in a dead heat with a proven, experienced conservative with a demonstrated record of public service –in an R+8 district that elected Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Tom Price.

That’s newsworthy, but the survey published this weekend by the AJC is a pile of dog squeeze that doesn’t qualify as a poll, not even a “skewed poll.” They should release the raw date to show it’s not utter garbage –and reporting it takes “fake news” to the level of out-and-out propaganda.

The AJC should be ashamed of itself.


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