E-Government, Internationalization, Public Relations

E08: Is the mass media lying about McCain’s percentage?

5 Factors 2 Website Success by Lars Hilse
The Mass Media shows McCain at 46%When it comes to political elections I personally trust no one and – like pretty much always – base my opinion on the independent media sources, which are primarily internet based.

When I was looking into who was going to make the race in the US presidential elections I was upon my search on Google, directed to a German news site of a conceivably free television station.

I was presented with the result that McCain was supposed to have around 46% or the electoral votes as of October 18th.

Having been made aware of the Islandic project “If The World Could Vote“, which is in part managed by my good friend Hjortur Smarason, I also checked there, expecting that the results would be at least similar. The project, by the way, assumes that anyone of the over 6 billion citizens of the world could give their vote, electing the next president in the USA.

Rolling my cursor over the USA revealed a staggeringMcCain at only 18% on an independent Media Source 18,8% of the voters who had given their voice to McCain.

The initial question which arose was whether one of these sources had somehow miscalculated the information because of the massive discrepancy between the results found.

Investigating further sources on the mass media presented similar presentations of the percentages while looking more into the independent media scene showed a clear trend towards McCain’s opponent Obama.

Of course we have to consider that “only” a small minority of the US citizens had voted on the independent platform. Maybe these, apparent internet users, are the more educated because of their web access?

Have a nice weekend


  • http://NA Kris


    Interesting. Another possible explanation is that iftheworldcouldvote.com apparently tabulates only the votes from those who log on to the site. This means that it is subject to tremendous possible self-selection and to “gaming” as some individuals might log on multiple times to vote (maybe there is a mechanism limiting votes to unique IPs, still can be circumvented).

    I note that the US tranche is only about 167,000 votes out of a population of 300 million. if pro-Obama voters log on to the site in large numbers – big skewing.

    I am not a McCain supporter, but I think that the polls in the US, far from perfect though they may be, are generally better samples of the population. My discussions with Americans do not indicate that there is this overwhelming sentiment for Obama.

    Kris, American in Singapore

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  • Martin

    The previous comment is accurate, but the only poll that matters is the one on Nov 4th. There is plenty of evidence by now that voters lie to pollsters, or tell them who they think will win not who they will vote for, or fail to turn out, or change their minds. The pollsters can’t get representative samples because many people no longer have landlines and they don’t call cellphones. Probably they never did get representative samples because people like me refuse to talk to them.

    The polls have taken attention away from issues for years and turn elections into a game, with commentators in the media telling voters how the campaign is being executed, not what they ought to know and think about the candidates. Maybe a blog on polls is a complex derivative, and the figures you quote are as useless as the average investors understanding of the risk in default insurance on Wall Street.

  • http://www.afreeamerican.com Chris Moore

    I think what you are also seeing in the push for McCain are a lot of Americans fed up with the lies of the liberal media in support of Obama…many sites like mine are popping up…raising questions about Obama. You will see the primary issue with be this: Americans with either side with life or death….while the economy will play a determining factor…the REAL issue is can people sleep at night knowing they support a candidate that has historically supported infanticide. Take a look. I have tons of good links…some informative / some for enjoyment.




  • http://www.afreeamerican.com Chris Moore

    Sorry about the typos above…it’s late here.

  • Harrison Rose

    As a U.S. citizen, born in the U.S., and educated here, I find it quite understandable where your confusion lies, and it is not any supposed bias of the “liberal” media. There are so many problems with the assumptions of statistic validity in the assumptions that it is hard to be succinct; but, I will try.

    First, the president is chosen by the electoral college. This is a group that represents the population of each state in a proportional manner equal to the state’s members in the House of Representatives plus the 2 senators. Hence, the highly populated states have significantly more weight. As was shown in the 2000 election, a candidate can win through this process without having the popular vote. If there is a tie, then the election is thrown into the House of Representatives, and a tie there is broken by the president of the senate who happens to be the current Vice President.

    Second, a global populous vote that barely has a rounding error’s worth of collected votes is simply random noise and should be discounted out of hand.

    Third, the 4th Estate, another name for the press, is in general non-biased. The individual columnists, editors, editorial boards, and analysts have their own leanings and opinions separate from the many polling organizations. Assuming a lie is worse than listening to the politician’s jive without fact checking. Or, in fact, that is exactly what it is. The press performs this fact checking as a valuable service and will stand up to government intervention of any kind. This is protected by our constitution, with over 200 years of case law to back it! Controversy sells papers and news broadcasts. Writing style secures an audience. Just as in normal marketing.

    The blogosphere is not held to the high standards of the public airwaves. There is no enforcement of fact checking, and the vast majority are repeating what they find on some other site or just stating their opinion without reference or factual support. This is what I find is common among supporters of McCain over Obama. For example, the nonsense about Obama supporting infanticide. This was disputed during the third presidential debate and the text of the law in question is available online for anyone to read and validate themselves.

    As in marketing, you should always test the assumptions and claims against the validated facts. This is the biggest problem that McCain has as a politician, his claims don’t check out and don’t balance against the facts unless horribly twisted through the republican public relations engines.

    People believe what they want to believe, and are generally lazy about digging up or checking out supporting facts. Outside the U.S., the rest of the world has seen the destruction brought about by Bush and the Republican Congress, from unjust wars through illegal use of torture to the economic ruin brought on by the Republican philosophy of deregulation.

    I hope this gives you a different way of looking at the issues.

  • Amos Beer

    I think it was Winston Churchil who once said that he doesn’t trust any polls he hadn’t manipulated himself…
    Jokes aside, I agree with all the previous posts. To sum up, when quasi-scientific polls can’t predict the results it would be naive to assume that a small sample like the one mentioned, and one that has to count on people’s internet-access, awareness of this site and willingness to participate will do any better. Give me a 30,000,000+ database and I might start believing it.

  • Jack Lopez

    I’ve sworn off polls in the U.S. Too much manipulation. I had to laugh at the Churchill quote. It says it all. I follow politics in the U.S. very closely. Perhaps because I was born one block from the U.S. Capitol.

    If your question is regarding reading the tea leaves, it appears to me as though Obama has the lead. I would/will be surprised if McCain wins. Although it’s not beyond the pale. U.S. polls have leaned heavily toward Democratic candidates for years, not an opininion. Research the past several Presidential elections a month to two weeks prior to elections.

    There is an interesting article about polls in the Washington Post this morning. The pollster Zogby says that they can’t foretell the future. They only offer a snapshot in time. The comment reminded me of the financial statements of Fannie Mae and many of those sub-prime loan institutions.

    If I had to place a bet at Vegas on the outcome, I’d place my money on Obama.
    This response is not intended as a political statement. When it comes to my money and wagers I always lean heavily towards increasing my holdings.

    I wonder how Vegas odds-makers have compared with the polls over the past Presidential elections. May make for an interesting thesis.

  • jimmy in tokyo

    Well, as for polls: check out this site http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ it rocks because it’s an overview and provides a total average percentage of all the major polls, putting the Big O at 7.2% up. Are ten US polls collectively wrong? Underneath that on the right hand side is the updated Intrade odds for Obama to win, which now sits at 87.7%. That’s what Vegas says.

    Intrade is a real world real money prediction market, and prediction markets are usually either as accurate or more accurate than polls. If you don’t believe me, then check it online.

    It’s mega naive to be shocked that 81% of global internet users think Obama should be president. Let see, heavy internet users – like reading, writing.. umm.. like information etc.. umm.. probably value dissemination of information, are middle class, have spare time .. umm.. holy cow, maybe politically they’re liberals? good grief! And consider this: The entire Western world (not Asia, Africa, Latin America) is skewed towards liberalism. Abortion is legal in nearly western country http://www.womenonwaves.org/set-158-en.html, tax regimes for high income individuals range from severe to draconian (Scandanavia etc), national health schemes are virtually everywhere – all looks Democratic to me!

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