Here is a headline that popped up on Breitbart, the conservative propaganda and opinion website:
“CNN Poll: Democrats’ Hold over Congress Has Grown Increasingly Fragile”
What would you assume that a poll justifying such a headline would show? You would think that it polled likely voters, and that it showed a majority of them currently planning on voting Republican in the upcoming 2022 elections, right?
“By far-left CNN’s estimates, congressional Democrats are not in very good standing for the 2022 midterm elections,” the article begins. Then we learn that “When asked, ‘If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district?’ 45 percent of registered voters chose a Democrat candidate and 44 percent chose a Republican candidate.” The current partisan divide on Capital Hill has both the House and the Senate divided almost 50-50, with Democrats and Republicans being evenly divided in the Senate, and only holding a margin of 10 in the House, which has 435 seats. That’s a margin of 2.2%.
You can play with the figures, but essentially the poll shows exactly the same partisan split that currently exists.
Another shameless right-wing site, Citizen Free Daily, describes the same poll with this clickbait: “CNN poll is horrible for democrats…” I’d say that any poll that doesn’t show Democrats rushing to beg the forgiveness of their neighbors for inflicting Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi on the nation is a wonderful poll for Democrats. Obviously, they just don’t care that the people they elected are incompetent and untrustworthy: as long as they aren’t Republicans, Democratic candidates could shoot people in broad daylight in Times Square, and registered Democrats would still vote for them, to paraphrase what the man they despise has said about his own supporters in a description that was widely mocked as indicating that Trump supporters were mindless morons.
Another poll mentioned in the same article justifies the headline even less convincingly. Breitbart writes, “An August Punchbowl News poll found that less than half of Democrat senior Capitol Hill aides, 48 percent, believe Democrats can keep the House in the 2022 midterms — the first time a majority of Democrat aides felt this way.”
What is the probative value of what Democrat senior Capitol Hill aides think will happen? I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and say “none whatsoever.” The fact that anyone thinks anything will happen doesn’t make the likelihood that it will happen greater or lesser. This isn’t evidence, it’s opinion. Hilariously, the political right has been mocking the Left’s slavish reliance on “experts” regarding the environment, the economy, law, health care and public policy, and yet Breitbart cites the opinions of Democratic experts as significant—because they seem to support what the conservative site’s staff wishes were true in this case.
I banned Breitbart as an Ethics Alarms source in 2016, and I regret not having done so earlier. It is the Right’s equivalent of Media Matters on the Left: intellectually dishonest, deceitful, exploiting confirmation bias to advance an ideological agenda.