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2008 potential presidential candidates:

"Faithful America" complaints
concerning TV exit polls

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Sponsored link.


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Polling questions asked during exit interviews:

For decades, many media providers have been equating Christianity with Evangelical Christianity. When reporters seek a controversial quotation on some hot-button item, they almost inevitably ask a fundamentalist or other conservative evangelical leader. Media personnel frequently do not seek comments from mainline or liberal Christian leaders.

Faithful America (FA) believes that this same bias has extended to exit polls conducted during the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses.

Faithful America is a program of the National Council of Churches, USA, -- an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Protestant Christian denominations. They describe themselves as a:

"... progressive, inclusive, and responsive interfaith electronic advocacy community dedicated to providing a powerful collective voice to help advance the cause of compassion and justice in public policy."

Faithful America is unlike the many conservative Christian groups that focus on reducing abortion access, preserving discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, and prohibiting same-sex marriage. Instead, FA tackles a broad range of topics like poverty, global warming, other environmental concerns, human rights, etc. During 2008-FEB, they started collecting signatures on a petition to TV networks. FA perceived a bias in the questions that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the Associated Press have asked during exit polls. According to FA:

"The petition says: 'The presidential primary exit polls, sponsored by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the AP, must stop stereotyping people of faith. We call on the media pollsters to ask all voters -- Republicans and Democrats -- the same religion questions on the exit poll surveys'."

Presumably, the request would also extend to political independents as well.

Faithful America notes that:

"The exit polls have asked Republican voters more religion questions than Democratic voters in every single primary state. In Michigan and Iowa they didn't ask Democratic voters any religion questions at all. In every state, they have exhaustively analyzed Republican evangelicals and completely ignored evangelical Democrats, even though our own research says one-third of evangelical voters are voting in Democratic primaries."

"So far, the networks have dismissed polite inquiries from faith leaders, and a growing drumbeat of media attention. The only response the pollsters have given is that there is 'limited real estate' on their questionnaires, and that they 'do not talk publicly about what questions are on our surveys'."

"That's ridiculous. They've made plenty of room on their Republican surveys for religion questions. They can do the same for their Democratic surveys. All people of faith should have the same chance to be represented."

"It's time for thousands of us to call for balanced questioning in presidential exit polls. Click here to sign your name: Sign the petition."

"If we are silent, the media pollsters will continue to reinforce false stereotypes about religious voters. The wedge-issue 'values voter' will be the face of faith in politics AGAIN. We must refuse to be pigeonholed."

"The exit polls are especially egregious when it comes to polling about evangelicals. The broadening of the evangelical issue agenda to include issues like poverty and the environment has been a major news story all year. But the exit polls have asked not asked Democratic voters in a single state -- while asking Republicans in every state -- if they are evangelical."

"Faith in Public Life and the Center for American Progress Action Fund commissioned a poll in two Super Tuesday states, Missouri and Tennessee, to demonstrate what the pollsters are missing. Their poll, released last week, showed:

bulletOne-third of all white evangelical voters in both states participated in the Democratic primaries.
bulletThere were 160,000 evangelical Democratic voters in Missouri and 180,000 evangelical Democratic voters in Tennessee. In both states, that's as many or more than all African-American voters, all voters over 65, or all voters who said the Iraq war is the most important issue facing the country.
bulletMajorities of evangelical voters in both states support a broader issue agenda that goes beyond abortion and same-sex marriage to include ending poverty, protecting the environment, and tackling HIV/AIDS."

"If enough of us sign, we can make it plain to the networks' pollsters: no party can own any faith."

(Bold characters by Faithful America)

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "God's Only Party?," Faithful America, 2008-FEB, at: http://www.faithfulamerica.org/ This is expected to be a temporary listing.
  2. "Sign the Petition," Faithful America, 2008-FEB, at: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/

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Site navigation: Home pageReligious information > Basic info > here

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Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-FEB-20
Latest update: 2008-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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