CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 28, 2012
September 28th, 2012
05:12 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 28, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 28, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: INTELLIGENCE AGENCY CHANGES ASSESSMENT OF LIBYA ATTACK... The U.S. intelligence community has revised its assessment of the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. It has moved from an initial assessment of the September 11 attack as something that began spontaneously after a protest over an anti-Muslim film to the belief that it was "a deliberate and organized terrorist assault carried out by extremists" affiliated or sympathetic with al Qaeda, according to a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. – Suzanne Kelly

(Answer below)
Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered California on this day in 1542. Where in the Golden State did he first land?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

The CNN Political Unit took the time to debunk a meme being parroted by some conservative commentators angry at recent polling. It is the story today that indeed caught our eye:

By CNN Political Unit – Washington (CNN) – It’s a conspiracy theory of the highest level: media organizations allegedly manipulating data in public opinion polls to try and help President Barack Obama win a second term. Democracy crushed.

The accusations are predicated on the idea that some media organizations are interviewing too many Democrats in their surveys, which skew the results in way to benefit Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Tune into conservative talk radio or search the Internet and there’s a good chance you will see or hear the charges. Even from Romney surrogates.

“So there's a number of things going on with the polls, folks,” Rush Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio program. “Let's review just quickly some things said yesterday. One of the reasons that you tout a big lead, at the same time early voting begins, is to suppress Romney early voters. Who wants to vote for a loser? Oh, gosh, here we go again. We really don't have a chance. They know that so many people on our side, all you gotta do is listen to the average conservative pundit and realize that they're mired in negativity and pessimism. So you build it up, put out a poll that shows a massive Obama lead and early voting goes on, and so you stoke Obama voters, you depress Romney voters.”

A question you might ask yourself: Would Limbaugh be attacking these media polls if the results showed Romney leading?

Republican strategist Karl Rove stoked the same conspiracy flames earlier this week on Fox News.

"You've got to be careful about these polls," Rove said. "We endow them with a false scientific precision they simply don't have."

The criticism has ramped up over the past two weeks after a series of polls in key battleground states showed the president gaining an advantage over Romney. Heading into the homestretch of the long campaign, the results are a troubling development that Romney’s top aides are being forced to address. And part of the strategy is criticizing the polling results.

"They have a Democratic voter participation that is higher than the participation in the electorate in 2008,” Ed Gillespie, a senior Romney adviser said on Fox News this week. “I don't know anyone on the ground in any of these swing states who believes that there will be a higher Democratic percentage of the electorate in 2012 than there was in 2008."

And Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan, without an understanding of the facts, charged that CNN “deliberately” over-polled Democrats in a recent survey.

“There's a CNN poll last week,” she said in an appearance on CNN. “We won in the poll the independents by 14 percent and we won Republicans by 98 percent. And somehow the CNN poll had us losing by six. Now, you and I both know if we win 14 percent of independents we're going to have a mighty good day. So what is that about?”

A top Romney campaign strategist said it uses its own internal polling when making decisions.

"The public polls are what the public polls are,” Rich Beeson, Romney’s political director, told reporters earlier this week. “I kind of hope the Obama campaign is basing their campaign on what the public polls say. We don't. We have confidence in our data and our metrics. I feel confident where we are in each one of our states. I have great faith in our data."

Steve Doocy of Fox News has expressed skepticism about polling results for this election.

"Could there possibly be some skewing going on by the media, the left-based mainstream media?" Doocy said.

Doocy’s own network, though, has published polls that were very much in line with the topline results from other media surveys.

• A Fox News poll of Virginia voters indicated Obama had a seven point (49%-42%) advantage over Romney. A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times survey in Virginia showed Obama up only four-points (50%-46%) over Romney, while a Washington Post poll had Obama with an eight point (52%-44%) lead over Romney in the Commonwealth.

• In Ohio, a Fox News poll said Obama had a seven point (49%-42%) advantage over Romney, while an Ohio survey by The Washington Post put Obama up eight points (52%-44%) over Romney and a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll showed the president with a 10 point (53%-43%) lead over Romney.

• A Fox News Poll of Florida voters showed Obama with a five point (49%-44%) lead over Romney, while The Washington Post survey of Floridians said Obama was up four points (51%-47%) on Romney and a Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times Florida poll indicated that Obama had a nine point (53%-44%) lead on Romney.

Hardly a concerted effort to skew poll results in favor of Obama - unless you agree that Fox News is part of the conspiracy.

Yet, not all conservatives are accusing the media of manipulating the data.

"I do not believe the polls are all wrong,” Erick Erickson, editor of the influential conservative web site, wrote on Wednesday. “I do not believe there is some intentional, orchestrated campaign to suppress the GOP vote by showing Mitt Romney losing. I actually believe that Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama.

“But I also believe the polls are reflecting a bigger Democratic strength than is really there," added Erickson, who is also a political contributor on CNN.

Criticizing public polling is hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s a regular campaign tactic.

What is new in this election cycle is that several polling organizations have started releasing their party identification numbers. And critics are seizing upon this information to formulate a flawed argument attacking the results, comparing party identification from these telephone polls to previous exit polls. It’s not a valid comparison.

Interviews conducted by telephone prior to an election are much different than talking to a person who has just voted for a candidate. In a telephone interview several months or several weeks before an election, a person might provide a different answer than the one they give after emerging from a voting booth.

People’s minds can change … which is exactly why there is such an effort by the campaigns to convince the undecided and soft-leaning voters to support their candidate.

Keep in mind, party identification is not a characteristic that is set in stone such as someone’s race or sex. It can evolve over time and change much like education and income levels. A study conducted a few years ago interviewed the same people six different times during a presidential election and it found that 25 percent of the participants changed their answer on party identification at least three times during the course of the study.

Republicans made similar arguments in 2008 when they compared polls taken in that cycle to the 2004 exit polls. And Democrats also voiced the same argument in 2004 by comparing surveys in that election cycle to the exit polls from the 2000 election. In 2008, Democrats won the White House and only four years earlier President George W. Bush won a second term.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, addresses the party identification argument in a September 27, 2012 column. If you are interested in this argument, we think it is worth a read. As is this September 19, 2012 column by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Who benefits from early voting?
Iowa is one of 35 states plus the District of Columbia that allow some form of early in-person voting. Of the nine presidential battlegrounds CNN now rates as tossups, only New Hampshire and Virginia do not have large-scale early voting. – John King

Leading Drudge: France Sets 75% 'Super Tax' Rate
France unveiled an austerity budget that would tax business and the super rich, but a report showing Spain's banks needed a manageable 59 billion euros in new funds bought time for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he seeks to avoid a bailout. – Daniel Flynn and Julien Toyer

Leading HuffPo: Off
If Mitt Romney was hoping to distance himself from former President George W. Bush, a new poll has some news that might trouble the Republican presidential nominee: Bush posted higher favorability ratings than Romney. – Sabrina Siddiqui

Leading Politico: In the end, it's Mitt
It isn’t the chair or the ho-hum convention. Or the leaked video. Or Stuart Stevens. Or the improving economy. Or media bias. Or distorted polls. Or the message. Or Mormonism. It’s Mitt. – Mike Allen, Jonathan Martin and Jim Vandehei

Leading The New York Times: September, November: 40 Precious Days to Spend on Early Vote
A stream of voters arrived at election offices across Iowa to cast their ballots. Waves of absentee ballots have started landing in mailboxes in 30 other states. And more than a month before what the calendar says is Election Day, President Obama began delivering his closing argument to voters. – Jeff Zeleny

The political bites of the day

- Romney pledges to win Pennsylvania -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN RALLY IN VALLEY FORGE, PENNSYLVANIA: “I have got a little secret here and that is the Obama campaign thinks that Pennsylvania is in their pocket (and) they don't need to worry about it. And you are right and they are wrong. We are going to win Pennsylvania and we are going to take the White House.”

- I am not going to talk about Israel… until I do -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN BOCA RATON, FLORIDA: “I am not going to talk about Israel today but I just want to say one thing. I just want to tell you how proud I am to stand shoulder to shoulder with a guy who has done more for Israel’s physical security than any president of the eight I have served with. But folks – that is really to thank all of you for the continued public education of a former senator from Delaware. I mean it sincerely. You have been great to me.”

- A woman asks friends to fast for Mitt Romney, plea goes viral -
MONA WILLIAMS, MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, IN A LETTER TO HER FRIENDS THAT HAS GONE VIRAL: “A lot of my frustration is because I feel I don’t know what to do to really make a change. Well, this time I do. I am asking you to join me and my family on Sunday Sept. 30 by fasting and praying for Mitt Romney … that he will be blessed in the debates.” LINK

- Brown says Washington has enough liars -
A WOMAN AND A MAN IN A NEW AD BY SEN. SCOTT BROWN: “Harvard touted her as a minority. Initially she said she didn't know anything about it. She kept on covering it up and going deeper and deeper into the hole. … Professor Warren got caught in a lie. We already have enough people in Washington that will say anything. Don't need one more.”

- Wow. Newt Gingrich says there is no GOP match for Clinton -
FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER NEWT GINGRICH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH MSNBC: “I think that the Romney challenge in the debate is to reset the campaign from the Bill Clinton narrative. It’s not the Obama narrative. The Clinton speech gave a frame of reference that explained Obama and discredited Romney and there's nobody on the Republican side with the same capacity to be believable because I think Clinton’s probably … the most acceptable American political figure.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Sam Youngman (@samyoungman)
Me: You've been prepping for debate since June. Are you ready? Romney: "(long pause) I'm looking forward to the debates. Put it that way."

Ashley Parker (‏@AshleyRParker)
Walk softly and carry a big stick: Romney comes back on his plane to hand out beef jerky.

Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin)
You guys are going to be so punked when Todd Akin reveals it was all performance art for a documentary by Casey Affleck

Peter Hamby (‏@PeterHambyCNN)
Campaign Mailer: Romney Vows to Fight the 'Epidemic' of Lyme Disease in Virginia via @sharethis

Chris Good (@c_good)
Study: drone strikes kill more civilians than admin acknowledges, from @marykbruce and @jaketapper

Tim Schmoyer (@TimW2JIG)
No email: Luddite or CyberSavvy? RT @natlsecuritycnn: The Luddite atop US cybersecurity

Andrew Trotman (@TeleTrotman)
It's all kicking off now: Spain says banks need €60bn, Fitch warns it could downgrade UK, rumours of Spanish downgrade tonight

Gut Check DVR: Sen. John McCain sits down with Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union. McCain debated both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama , and gives us a unique perspective as Camp Romney tries to manage expectations. Also, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod drops in to answer questions about debate preparations, swing state strategy, and Obama’s promises. CNN’s State of the Union airs Sunday at 9am and 12p ET.


While exploring the west coast of Mexico for the Spanish empire, Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo became the first European to discover California on this day in 1542. Cabrillo landed in present-day San Diego, on what today is known as Point Loma.

Cabrillo’s imprint in San Diego can still be felt to this day, as his landing point has become Cabrillo National Monument.

Even though Cabrillo died on his trip up the California coast, reports of the alluring California coast made their way back to Spain. The Spanish were slow to colonize California – the first permanent settlement was established in 1769 in San Diego.

We haven’t been writing much about California in 2012, largely because the most recent Field Poll finds President Barack Obama up 24 points over Republican Mitt Romney, but you can bet that we will be paying close attention to the 2014 gubernatorial race.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Christopher S. Brown (‏@chrisbrowntv) for correctly tweeting that Cabrillo landed in San Diego. Happy Friday all!

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Filed under: 2012
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Borderless

    Remember this:
    "After this election, I will have a lot more flexibility."–President Obama

    September 28, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |