Kucinich takes the ABC News online poll

Wow, there are some tenacious Dennis Kucinich supporters out there.  It seems that a few of them have taken to running up his numbers in ABC New’s online poll on the winner of the debate held in Iowa yesterday morning.  If you are skeptical of this result, you are right to be so.

Of course, the fact that this is an online poll disqualifies any real significance it has in showing viewer sentiment.  Considering that Kucinich did not get much air time, and of the air time he got, a significant portion was devoted to complaining about how he didn’t get much air time, I have a hard time seeing him as a “winner” of this debate (but then again, the debate format makes an actual “win” difficult).

Of course, the real issue is that this is an online poll which counts previous voters with cookies, packets of information sites send to visitors that can be used for identification later.  The funny thing is, if you delete the cookies sent by abcnews.go.com after voting, you can vote again, and this is exactly what these tenacious Kucinich voters have been doing.  Look at the data after the break.

At about 6 pm today Eastern time…long after the debate was finished, these were the numbers:

Who do you think won the Democratic debate?

Barack Obama 5,486
Hillary Clinton 3,829
Dennis Kucinich 3,207
Joe Biden 2,660
John Edwards 2,210
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican. 928
Bill Richardson 670
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race. 599
Mike Gravel 572
Chris Dodd 150
Total Vote: 20,311

At 8:30:

Who do you think won the Democratic debate?

Barack Obama 6,286
Dennis Kucinich 4,937
Hillary Clinton 4,294
Joe Biden 2,841
John Edwards 2,463
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican. 1,096
Bill Richardson 800
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race. 741
Mike Gravel 657
Chris Dodd 167
Total Vote: 24,282

About the time of this post:

Who do you think won the Democratic debate?

Dennis Kucinich 8,930
Barack Obama 7,534
Hillary Clinton 4,905
Joe Biden 3,072
John Edwards 2,820
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican. 1,335
Bill Richardson 931
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race. 927
Mike Gravel 856
Chris Dodd 185
Total Vote: 31,495

More than one third have been cast within the last 10 hours and the votes for Kucinich during that time represent more than half of his total votes.  Given that ABC, unlike YouTube and MSNBC after their recent events, doesn’t offer unclipped footage of the debate, I find it highly unlikely that even a significant minority of those votes were by people who watched the whole debate.

The lesson of this?  Never trust online poll results.  Oh, and if you want to vote in this poll armed with the above knowledge before ABC catches on and closes it, here is the url:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Decision2008/popup?id=3493427

[Update]

Just to show that the trend of faster votes for Kucinich has continued through today, here are the results as they stand now (8/20 10:15 Eastern time):

Dennis Kucinich 12,601
Barack Obama 8,959
Hillary Clinton 5,727
Joe Biden 3,394
John Edwards 3,208
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican. 1,724
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race. 1,243
Bill Richardson 1,145
Mike Gravel 1,134
Chris Dodd 204
Total Vote: 39,339
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About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Politics, Random. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Kucinich takes the ABC News online poll

  1. Appleseed says:

    They showed the debate again (twice, at least) that evening on C-SPAN, at about 10 and 12:30. I don’t know if that counts for anything, but it was handy for me as I missed the originial airing.

  2. Tom says:

    Candidates, by percentage of time they were allowed to speak:

    Obama: 20.5%
    Clinton: 18.5%
    Edwards: 13.2%
    Richardson: 12.8%
    Biden: 11.0%
    Kucinich: 8.5%
    Dodd: 8.0%
    Gravel: 7.5%

    So, an unmanipulated poll, should technically go by those percentages. It’s actually kinda close to that. Richardson and Biden can be flipped because Richardson is not a strong speaker in general. Also, Dodd and Gravel can also be flipped for the same reason.

    You are a tool of the mass media, Mèng Bómín.

  3. Tom says:

    Did you listen to the amount of applause each candidate got after they spoke? Kucinich DID win that debate if you go by the audience reponse, ESPECIALLY if you take into account the amount of time give to speak.

  4. stephen says:

    I thought that, reading between the lines and tired rhetoric of the status quo candidates, that Dennis was marginalized purposely – but he also offered substantive answers that were actually different from the others.

    BTW, I TiVO’d it and watched it later – as well as some of the clips ABC ran on their site – and only voted once.

    The more I learn about him the more I realize he’s the one we need.

    I really hope he does become the next Pres – http://www.kucinich.us

  5. Ben says:

    Appleseed: Interesting, did not know that. I doubt that it would have made a big difference though. I suspect that the majority of people watching these debates were watching it on ABC, which you don’t have to have cable to watch. CSPAN may have a viewer base, but compared to ABC’s it is minimal.

    Tom: I realize that Kucinich was not given his fair shake in these debates. In fact, I find these debates in general to be rather poorly constructed and do not base much if any of my opinion of the candidates upon them.

    That said, it doesn’t take much to realize that in a scientific poll, Kucinich would not perform nearly as well as the other candidates for the reason you noted: he got hardly any airtime. It’s hard to win a debate in the eyes of the audience if you don’t get time to speak.

    As I said, I know that this is an unfair reason for him to be discounted, but it is there and ignoring that would be silly. Simply pointing out that the poll was manipulated by a few Kucinich supporters with the technical expertise it took to vote multiple times (not much) were able to influence the results. Saying so surely doesn’t make me a “tool of the mass media”.

    stephen: But your support of Kucinich came before-hand. Just as Clinton supporters are more likely to say that Hillary won the debate and Obama supporters are more likely to say that he won the debate. So your support of him is not incredibly surprising. But when looking at the audience of this debate, I find it hard to believe that over a quarter were Kucinich supporters.

    Now, I want to further note that I don’t think that it was just Kucinich supporters who manipulated the poll. I suspect that there were Obama supporters as well who did their own manipulation, as he made some gains over other candidates in the poll as time went on. The main point of this post was to point out how untrustworthy such polls are.

  6. Pingback: Why I’m not voting for Kucinich « Meng Bomin

  7. Al says:

    Although online polls have flaws, so do polls conducted by phone. Any poll is going to reflect the opinion of those who bother to vote in that particular poll. It’s becoming a much discussed fact that a lot of younger people use cell phones rather than land lines and therefore all polls conducted by phone really only reflect the opinions of people who use a land line and leave out the opinions of many younger voters who use cell phones only. Consequently, those polls also have a significant bias.

    As a marginalized candidate who doesn’t get a lot of major media airtime, it’s hardly surprising that a lot of Kucinich’s supporters are going to be people who (1) get more of their news from the internet and are therefore more aware of candidates and issues not reflected in mainstream media (2) are going to be inclined to participate in an online poll because they’re accustomed to responding to things online.

    In short, just because the results of this poll are not what you expect doesn’t mean that they have no legitimacy.

  8. Ben says:

    Al:

    In short, just because the results of this poll are not what you expect doesn’t mean that they have no legitimacy.

    I do not assert that online polls lack legitimacy because they give me results I don’t expect. I assert that they lack legitimacy because they tend not to pull a representative sample audiance. I know that supporters of different candidates left links to the poll, which disrupts the sample. I also know that it is possible to vote multiple times in this poll, which also disrupts the sample.

    Yes, I will grant you that phone polls have serious flaws: not all voters have landlines, not all voters are available at the times pollsters call, and not all voters are willing to answer surveys among other problems. But they deliver a better sample in many ways because those surveyed only answer once and acheive a distribution that is closer to random (though still far from it) than any online poll can acheive.

    Now, on the topic of this particular poll, you state that

    As a marginalized candidate who doesn’t get a lot of major media airtime, it’s hardly surprising that a lot of Kucinich’s supporters are going to be people who (1) get more of their news from the internet and are therefore more aware of candidates and issues not reflected in mainstream media (2) are going to be inclined to participate in an online poll because they’re accustomed to responding to things online.

    Of those two only (2) relates to Kucinich pulling in more numbers. I’m sure that that may be part of it, but one of the main points of my post was that most of Kucinich’s votes came long after the debate was aired, suggesting that most of those votes came not as a response to actually watching the debate, but rather as a response to links to the poll from Kucinich supporting sites (I know that Obama supporters did this), and because of tech savvy Kucinich supporters either manually clearing cookies to vote multiple times or creating bots to do so.

    I’m sure a lot of Kucinich supporters get their news from the Internet. But his supporters are not the only ones to do so. I for one am an Obama supporter, as is made clear on the right side of this site, and I almost never watch broadcast news. The two sites that I look to for most of my news are Google News, which aggregates news from multiple journalistic sources and BBC News, which has an Anglo bias, but tends to have better coverage of world news than many American outlets.

  9. Tom says:

    The ABC poll actually didn’t let you vote more than once. Also, there were more than 10,000 votes for Kuci

  10. grackel says:

    I too watched the debate on CSPAN and voted online for Kucinich. As for people being able to vote more than once… i don’t know about that… I didn’t even think to try. I was impressed by the amount of written comments from Kucinich supporters on the abc site. It didn’t look to me like the comments were from one group of people either.

    You are correct though… the poll doesn’t count for much scientifically, but I it is impressive and reassuring for all of us Kucinich supporters. We know we are not alone.

  11. Ben says:

    Tom:

    The ABC poll actually didn’t let you vote more than once. Also, there were more than 10,000 votes for Kuci

    Superficially, no it did not, but it didn’t take much for me to get around the measures to prevent double voting. All I had to do was delete all my cookies from abcnews.go.com and it treated me as a new voter (which is why double voting seems likely)

    grackel:
    I believe that the majority of voters in the poll participated honestly and voted once. But it only takes a few who know how to work the poll and have the time on their hands to do so to seriously skew the results.

    I understand that victories in any poll warm the hearts of supporters, regardless of the actual legitimacy of the poll. But the fact is that the poll can actually be quite divorced from reality and I harbor no illusions that these polls are a good indicator of real support. When I see Obama’s lead over Clinton widen in this poll, I know that there is some fishy work afoot from Obama supporters as well.

    Now, to be fair, Kucinich does have a strong online following simply because that is where his views are more likely to get a fiar shake and because there are many users who are sympathetic with his views.

  12. Mike says:

    Hey there, found your post from google…

    “When I see Obama’s lead over Clinton widen in this poll, I know that there is some fishy work afoot from Obama supporters as well.”

    and

    “I do not assert that online polls lack legitimacy because they give me results I don’t expect. I assert that they lack legitimacy because they tend not to pull a representative sample audience”

    I think your views here are a little skewed and contradictory. Telephone polls, which often get only 1000 responses, are certainly not representative of the country as a whole. From such a small response group – especially the type of people that tend to respond to such a poll – it’s easy to find the people that support the most mainstream candidate.

    Besides, considering how easy it is for someone to cheat, would you not expect supporters of other candidates to be as fervent as Kucinich supporters? Particular supporters of Gravel (who often can appear VERY emphatic) need it more than Kucinich does… and it only takes one cookie-deleter. Additionally, notice that ABC news had no comment about them pulling the poll, putting it back up and then pulling it again. If they suspected something along the lines of what you’re suggesting, for a democratic candidate, surely they would jump at the chance to vocalize it.

    Finally, I think you need to consider Kucinich’s performance in the debate relative to the other candidates. Yes, Kucinich didn’t speak for very long but his response from the audience was very significant when he did speak. The other candidates talked a lot but didn’t really say anything. Obviously people are tired of politics for its own sake and I think Kucinich showed them something else. He was charming, funny and made real points – not just talking points. Obviously this is my subjective opinion but my point is simply that I believe he DID out perform the other candidates at the debate, not because he was necessarily amazing but because the other candidates will just seem to be ‘politicians’ to a lot of people – so Kucinich didn’t have to do much to impress the audience.

    Yes, both of our evidence is circumstantial, I just think mine holds up better than yours 🙂

  13. Mike says:

    I also forgot to mention that it seems like you’re assuming only people who watched the debate on American television were the ones voting?!

    I live in Britain, watched it on YouTube and then voted. If I had to guess, I’d suggest that a significant number of people who voted watched the debate online – at varying times afterwards.

  14. Ben says:

    I think your views here are a little skewed and contradictory. Telephone polls, which often get only 1000 responses, are certainly not representative of the country as a whole. From such a small response group – especially the type of people that tend to respond to such a poll – it’s easy to find the people that support the most mainstream candidate.

    I suffer no illusions from phone polls. They are quite inaccurate. However, that doesn’t mean that Kucinich is actually getting the sort of support that the ABC poll seems to suggest.

    Besides, considering how easy it is for someone to cheat, would you not expect supporters of other candidates to be as fervent as Kucinich supporters? Particular supporters of Gravel (who often can appear VERY emphatic) need it more than Kucinich does… and it only takes one cookie-deleter. Additionally, notice that ABC news had no comment about them pulling the poll, putting it back up and then pulling it again. If they suspected something along the lines of what you’re suggesting, for a democratic candidate, surely they would jump at the chance to vocalize it.

    Actually, that’s the very reason I thought it was just a handful that were responsible for most of the votes. It’s easy to cheat the system, but most people don’t care enough to do it with such repetition or to actually program a bot to do it. The ABC poll wasn’t something most people would care that much about, so only a few would try it, and from the trend of the results, I would say that the few that did were mainly from the Kucinich camp.

    Finally, I think you need to consider Kucinich’s performance in the debate relative to the other candidates. Yes, Kucinich didn’t speak for very long but his response from the audience was very significant when he did speak. The other candidates talked a lot but didn’t really say anything. Obviously people are tired of politics for its own sake and I think Kucinich showed them something else. He was charming, funny and made real points – not just talking points. Obviously this is my subjective opinion but my point is simply that I believe he DID out perform the other candidates at the debate, not because he was necessarily amazing but because the other candidates will just seem to be ‘politicians’ to a lot of people – so Kucinich didn’t have to do much to impress the audience.

    Your reference to Kucinich’s talking points as “real points” is revealing.

    I also forgot to mention that it seems like you’re assuming only people who watched the debate on American television were the ones voting?!

    The majority of viewers would have been those who watched it from ABC, yes. I know others saw it elsewhere (CSPAN, whatever foreign stations aired it, etc.) but that group is probably considerably smaller than the group that watched on ABC.

    But in actuality, I only assumed that debate watchers were the poll takers as an ideal condition, which it was obviously far from. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the majority of voters didn’t watch the debate at all.

  15. Mike says:

    “Your reference to Kucinich’s talking points as ‘real points’ is revealing.”

    Yes it is – as I mentioned myself.

  16. Alexis says:

    ABC is owned by Disney, the number 1 exploiter of child and sweatshop labor abroad. They would lose billions of dollars if Kucinich, a proponent of a living wage and the withdrawal from WTO were to become president. he is rather inconvenient for them, and to dismiss all online polls are flawed is pretty electronically naive. was the DFA poll rigged? the PDA? the Independent’s Primary? the nation poll? anyway, ABC has an ungodly history with unincorporated candidates.

    A more recent case of press bias occurred in the days before the ABC-sponsored debate in Durham, New Hampshire where ABC’s “Nightline” host, journalist Ted Koppel, expressed a desire to be rid of at least one-third of the field of Democratic candidates. “How did Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun get into this thing?” Koppel reportedly asked. “Nobody seems to know. Some candidates who are perceived as serious are gasping for air and what little oxygen there is on the stage will be taken up by one-third of the people who do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the nomination,” Koppel opined.

    In New Hampshire, Koppel brought his reductionist bias to the stage of the debate, which he began with a lengthy discussion of former Vice President Al Gore’s endorsement of Dean’s candidacy. When it came time for Kucinich to respond, he chided Koppel by saying, “To begin this kind of a forum with a question about an endorsement, no matter by who, I think actually trivializes the issues that are before us. For example, at this moment there are 130,000 troops in Iraq. I mean, I would like to hear you ask during this event what’s the plan for getting out.”

    Later in the debate, Koppel directed the following question to Braun, Sharpton, and Kucinich: “You don’t have any money, at least not much. Rev. Sharpton has almost none. You don’t have very much, Ambassador Braun. The question is, will there come a point when polls, money, and then ultimately the actual votes that will take place here—in places like New Hampshire, the caucuses in Iowa—will there come a point when we can expect one or more of the three of you to drop out? Or are you in this as sort of a vanity candidacy?”

    Sharpton was the first to respond, stating, “In all seriousness the problem is that we are reducing politics to people with money. I think that Americans want people with ideas. The suggestion is that if you can’t buy your way now, that you can’t seek the highest office in the land. That is to really sell the White House.”

    Kucinich answered next. Apparently unable to stand the derision of his campaign any longer, he took Koppel to task on the very issue of media bias: “Ted, you know, we started at the beginning of this evening talking about an endorsement. Well, I want the American people to see where the media takes politics in this country. To start with endorsements, to start talking about endorsements. Now we’re talking about polls. And then we’re talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don’t have to talk about what’s important to the American people.

    “Ted, I’m the only one up here that actually, on the stage, that actually voted against the PATRIOT Act. And voted against the war. The only one on this stage. I’m also one of the few candidates up here who’s talking about taking our healthcare system from this for-profit system to a not-for-profit, single-payer, universal health care for all. I’m also the only one who has talked about getting out of NAFTA and the WTO and going back to bilateral trade conditioned on workers rights, human rights, and the environment. Now, I may be inconvenient for some of those in the media, but I’m, you know, sorry about that.”

    Braun spoke to the issue last, emphasizing her support, along with Kucinich, for single-payer health care, and opposition to the war in Iraq and the USA PATRIOT Act. “The people want to hear ideas,” said Braun. “They want some energy. They don’t want to just embrace the status quo and expect change. I am the clearest alternative to George Bush and I will take the ‘White Men Only’ sign off the White House door.”

    One day after the debate between the Democratic presidential contenders, ABC decided to pull their three journalists who were covering the campaigns of Kucinich, Braun, and Sharpton. Kucinich responded immediately by publicizing the ABC decision. FAIR jumped into the fray by sending out an Action Alert via the Internet, which stated, “ABC’s decision was attributed to the fact that these candidates are perceived to have a slim chance of winning the Democratic nomination…. One has to wonder whether Kucinich’s rebuke of Koppel and his criticism of the priorities of the media had something to do with ABC’s decision to limit coverage of these candidates. No matter what the rationale, this does raise a concern that ABC is making an early call on the election of 2004—weeks before any votes have been cast.”

    Defending its action, an ABC spokesperson explained (Boston Globe, 12/11/03), “As we prepare for Iowa and New Hampshire, we are putting more resources toward covering those events.” Appearing on CNBC with Kucinich (12/10/03), Time reporter Jay Carney suggested that the decision could be due to the fact that “all of the media organizations have limited resources. It’s actually, I think, pretty impressive that they had somebody on your campaign day by day….”

  17. Alexis says:

    btw, that last post was copied from an article written about the 2004 election, which kucinich also ran in. so it was the ABC debate back then.

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