A tale of two polls

A TALE OF TWO POLLS…. In mid-May, Gallup released a poll that found 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” and 42% “pro-choice.” It was the first time a majority of U.S. adults had identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking the question. Last week, however, Gallup released a follow-up poll showing the pro-life lead evaporating, dropping from nine points to one, 47% to 46%.

What prompted the shift? It’s hard to say with certainty, but as we talked about on Thursday, it’s likely the May poll was just an outlier.

Ed Kilgore had a good item on this on Friday

Even aside from the essential emptiness of self-descriptions like “pro-choice” and “pro-life, those of us who thought the May poll was an outlier seem to have been right. But I bet you’re not going to hear nearly as much about it….

Similarly, Scott Lemieux predicted we’ll hear “a lot less” about the August results than “we did about the May outlier.”

Did this prove to be true? You bet it did.

In mid-May, the Gallup poll showing surging “pro-life” numbers generated a huge amount of media attention, including a lengthy AP story that appeared in papers across the country. The poll also generated stories in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, and the Washington Times. The poll also got plenty of play on the cable news networks.

And what about last week’s Gallup poll, showing relative parity between “pro-life” and “pro-choice”? Major news outlets ignored it almost completely. The Associated Press pretended it didn’t exist. The number of articles published in major newspapers? Zero. Blogs mentioned it, U.S. News did an online item, and UPI ran a piece. That’s it.

So, to review, Gallup results showing strong “pro-life” numbers are a huge story, even though the results were dubious. Gallup results showing weaker “pro-life” numbers are a non-story, even though the results made sense.

The “liberal media” strikes again.