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Readers Distrust Polls, Candidates

There's nothing like a poll to bring out the intensity of feelings that Readers Who Comment have about politicians and journalists. A new Washington Post - ABC News poll today says that Sen. Barack Obama holds a 10-point lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when Democrats are asked whom they would prefer to see as the party's presidential nominee. In hypothetical general-election matchups, Obama holds a narrow five-point lead over McCain, while McCain is three points ahead of Clinton, which is within poll's margin of error. McCain has been gaining ground in recent polls on each of his potential rivals, Dan Balz and Jon Cohen report.

As happens with all polling stories, many comments come from readers who say they don't like or trust polls or who insist that the polls have been skewed to favor the candidate they oppose. Most of the rest of the comments contain political analysis, cheerleading for a candidate or attacks on the other candidate.

One creative correspondent this morning repeated the posts of others, but changed the name of the candidates and other specifics to reverse the intent of the original post. Other readers noticed and filed correctives.

Some readers want to know why we're keeping the full story from them by writing about the results, with some interpretation, but hiding the data. Complete polling data -- including dates of polling, methodology and earlier results to the same questions are here. The fact all this stuff can be provided is one of the great advantages Internet distribution has over print, but that's another story.

We'll start with dunnhaupt, who said, "The poll shows that more people think Obama better understands their problems. It looks like the "bitter" story backfired, because people really ARE bitter, only Hillary doesn't get it." [The polling was done just as the bitter story was breaking.]

But TALVES wrote that "Obama has no chance in the general election even if he manages to hold on to the nomination. He is a lying hypocrite who is not qualified to be president."

martiniano said, "Isn't it obvious to everyone that Hillary is a Republican? Of course the Dems are for Obama. Hey, if you like what's been going on for the last 7 years then vote for the McCentury/Clinton ticket. But if you are bitter and disgusted like me then vote for Obama..."

ephemerella charged that "...Pro-Obama press like the Washington Post has succeeded on driving Clinton's negatives up whenever Obama has a problem, to drive keep her polling beneath him. But you did so at the cost of alienating Clinton voters, who are more than happy to vote for McCain."

fullmoonsteve joined in, writing, "...i don't like McCain, but obama scares me even more! i'm for hillary and if not her then in november like many others, this dem. votes for McCain"

jonathanR was one of several who said, "...The greatest way to unite the republicans behind McCain would have been to nominate Clinton."

greenacres2000 wrote, "...I can't understand McCain polling anywhere close to any Democrat as he is just a continuation of what we've had for 8 disasterous years. What of Bush could people possibly want more of - unless they are invested in a defense contractor in Iraq?"

celested9 said, "...At this point, national polls are meaningless. Furthermore, the only poll that counts is at the ballot box and Hillary will win there..."

johnkwhite1 added, "I wonder how many Americans believe that the media is biased and unfair in its reporting and polling. I have absolutely no trust in most reporting or in any polling by media on the Democratic primary..."

ScamfortheRich wrote, "Obama would still lose the swing states like Missouri, Ohio,and probably Pennsylvania to McCain in the general election. Obama should be the VP to Hillary at the top of the ticket and they would win."

daniel3715 said that "...Slanted biased polling is exactly what a doddering brain dead John McCain expects will put him in the back door of the White House... Hillary just needs to stay the course, she will put this country on the road to peace and prosperity..."

brewstercounty wrote, "...It's not over. A solid win in PA puts Clinton right back in the hunt for the nomination."

zb95 said, "Polls of Obama or Clinton versus McCain are meaningless at this point. Once the Dem nominee is selected and the party unites behind him/her, then check the polls."

joeparadis wrote, "I just don't believe this poll. The press has made such a tranparent and aggressive effort to destroy her and her candidacy that I think this is a put up job. Is it any wonder that journalists are the most reviled of "professionals." "

We'll close with the exchange on rewriting comments that I referred to earlier. It started when alarico wrote, "Hillary sucks. She is a disgrace to the Democratic Party. A Republican at heart, since her days as a Goldwater girl. Go home, Hillary the Rat! Go and run with McCain!"

Then brigittepj wrote, "alarico wrote: Barack sucks. He is a disgrace to the Democratic Party. A Muslim at heart, since his days as a Farrakhan man. Go home, Barack the Rat! Go and run with Wright!"

And alarico responded to brigittepj, "You're a moron misquoting me like that. I don't care about a candidate's religion as long as they keep church and state separate. You're a prejudiced idiot..."

All comments on the polling story are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  April 16, 2008; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Clinton , Obama , Presidential Politics  
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