08.31.2010 0

TimesCheck.com: NYT Declines to Poll Exclusively in Rep. Rangel’s District to Determine Support Among Likely Voters

  • On: 09/09/2010 22:44:41
  • In: Elections
  • NYT Declines to Poll Exclusively in Rep. Rangel’s District to Determine Support Among Likely Voters

    By Kevin Mooney

    There’s little doubt that Rep. Charlie Rangel’s reputation has suffered throughout Manhattan as a result of multiple ethics charges. But his fate will be decided in his district alone and not Manhattan at large. That’s why it’s very odd for the NYT to avoid polling just the most likely voters. While it would not be a mistake to also include results from neighboring areas, the sample used here has just 195 respondents with a large margin of error. That’s not helpful to readers.

    Even the best polls acknowledge a margin of error that discerning readers should carefully consider. However, the methodology and sampling that is used to determine most Manhattan voters would prefer to see Rep. Charles Rangel leave Congress is flawed to the point where it is highly misleading. This is more a question of competence and less a question of bias.

    A New York Times poll revealed a “significant reversal in public sentiment” that now shows a clear majority of Manhattan voters have an unfavorable view of the congressman and believe there is some merit to the charges against time. Rangel stands accused of multiple charges that include agreeing to four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, neglecting to pay taxes on a beachfront home in the Dominican Republic and using his House office to raise money for an education center.

    Here is how the poll numbers break down, according to a NYT report. Only 23 percent of respondents say he should continue his re-election efforts. Meanwhile, 46 percent say he should end his campaign and step down at the end of his current term, while 24 percent say he should resign immediately.

    But there are a few problems here. For starters just 195 registered voters were polled and this includes a sampling error of plus or minus seven percentage points. That’s a large error margin for such a small sample. Moreover, the NYT declined to poll Rangel’s district; that’s an odd omission. While results pulled from Manhattan as a whole are interesting and suggestive, they have little practical value. The article concludes with quotes from residents outside of Rangel’s district, which are meant as a rejoinder to those inside his district with misgivings. Shouldn’t this be turned around?

    As a longtime serving member with strong ties to favorable media organs, Rangel has a nationwide identity. But his future in politics will be determined by constituents who are now weighing the ethics charges. A more compelling report could have been built around voters who have previously supported the Harlem Democrat, but now have doubts. Unfortunately, this article does not provide readers with any meaningful insight into where the most decisive block of voters may be heading.

    Readers are told the Rangel retains the upper hand in his primary battle, despite the allegations. But this assertion is not substantiated. There is just as much anecdotal evidence that suggests Rangel’s base is evaporating as there is for continued support.

    “Despite Mr. Rangel’s troubles, he remains the clear favorite in the primary,” the NYT declares. “The poll measured the views of those throughout Manhattan, not only those in his district, but the results are telling because he represents about 40 percent of the borough’s residents.”

    The results are not as telling as they should be because they do not include a sampling that pulls exclusively from likely voters in Rangel’s district. If this result were reported in tandem with results from other parts of Manhattan, that would have had more relevance. Unfortunately, the Manhattan poll results that are reported are far too limited in scope to have any real meaning.

    Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau, and the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.

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