Getting Stupid With The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

The headline appeared at the Grand Junction Sentinel yesterday, bold face and ominous:

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Followed by a story that might make what’s known in the business as “low-information voters” think that oh yes indeedy, Gov. Jared Polis remains in political hot water despite this summer’s failed attempt to place a recall question on the ballot:

The majority of those surveyed feel the recent efforts to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will have a meaningful impact on state politics, according to a poll on

Efforts to recall Polis dominated the state’s political landscape this summer, but the groups gathering signatures ultimately fell well short of the 631,266 valid signatures required.

Slightly more than 65% of respondents affirmed the recall efforts, with 289 saying that it represented a large segment of the voting population. Others felt it sets the stage for further recall efforts (153) and sends a message to the governor (91).

Skeptical yet? You should be, because in the 5th paragraph a crucial detail is added below the fold:

Daily Sentinel polls are open-access and do not meet the criteria to be considered true scientific polls. [Pols emphasis]

That’s right, folks–although the Daily Sentinel is a legitimate news outlet that generally adheres to mutually accepted journalistic standards, this is a story about an online poll published on the Sentinel’s website. The respondents to the poll are self-selected visitors of the website. Basically the exact opposite a reliable cross-section of public opinion, online “polls” can be skewed simply by promoting the poll to an audience likely to vote a certain way. Even without deliberate manipulation there’s nothing to establish the poll’s respondents as representative of anything.

We also put up online polls from time to time, which are similarly unscientific and open to manipulation by anyone who cares enough about a poll on our blog to do it. The difference is that we would never represent such a poll as anything more than a discussion item for our readers. When you see a headline on this blog reporting the results of a “poll,” it’s an actual poll conducted with transparent standards and methodology.

With President Donald Trump Tweeting out the similarly absurd “results” of online polls at the hard-right propaganda website Breitbart News, it’s more important than ever that legitimate news organizations draw a bright white line between credible surveys of public opinion and garbage data with no credibility whatsoever.

For the Grand Junction Sentinel, that means never, ever writing a headline as misleading as this one again.


7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. gertie97 says:

    It appears somebody sold the Sentinel on so-called customer engagement with online polls. But somebody in the newsroom, or perhaps even the publisher, thought it would be a great idea to make a story out of it. Whoever did is oblivious to what polling is and how accurate polls are conducted.

    The online poll reflects the conservative nature of Mesa County, where Fox News ratings are off the charts and willful ignorance is a fact of life.

    But a few Democrats survive. We will never surrender.


  2. RepealAndReplace says:

    These people in Mesa County remind me of those Japanese soldiers who stayed in the caves in 1945 only to come out a few years later thinking that the war was going well for Japan.

  3. kwtree says:

    . When you see a headline on this blog reporting the results of a “poll,” it’s an actual poll conducted with transparent standards and methodology.

    You mean like the three polls that all showed Hickenlooper to be Mr. Inevitable?

    The very first poll, which Pols breathlessly reported, citing Wingerter’s Post piece, supposedly showed Hick crushing all rivals by 51%!. One catch – to this day, no one has actually seen this poll. Not Alva, not Wingerter, nadie.

    Yet Pols never, ever posts an article citing a poll without transparency and a verified source, right.?

    Two more polls were promoted , and those polls, while carried out by a reputable pollster (PPP),  were commissioned by 314 Action, the same organization that ran the “Draft Hick!” ads, and promoted him as a real scientist while simultaneously ignoring a real women scientist ( Trish Zornio ), along with any other candidate who wasn’t white and male.

    One of those two (August) was a “push poll” which was biased to provide positive pro-Hickenlooper responses. Sample question: 

    As a trained geologist, John Hickenlooper has been one of the nation’s top leaders on climate change. He brought the environmental community and the oil and gas industry together to hammer out the country’s first regulations to control methane emissions. Does hearing this make you more likely or less likely to vote for John Hickenlooper, or does it not make a difference? 

    The third (September) poll was a more reasonable PPP poll which made its methodology and questions transparent, and at least acknowledged the presence of other candidates. 

    So it took the DSCC, which promoted Hick as inevitable, even though he had always expressed contempt for the job of Senator and doubt about his capacity to do it, plus 314 Action, plus the willingness of the Alvas to let unsourced and obviously biased polls slide by, to crown Hick as Senator in Waiting. 

    Congrats, Pols. Good luck ginning up enthusiasm among young and minority voters for Frackenlooper. It could be a real yawner of a ticket, if Biden gets the top slot. 

    Just stop bragging about how you only  run stories about polls that are transparent and meet high standards. That’s clearly not true.

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