NBC News recently did an online survey that depicted a nice performance by Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, the survey found that 29 percent would vote for Trump and just 14 percent for Ben Carson, the survey’s runner-up. That’s a generous gap for the real-estate mogul.
Ever since NBC News released the numbers on Sunday, Trump has been hassling news outlets to highlight them. Even NBC!
On Monday morning, Trump was chatting via phone with the “Today” show’s Savannah Guthrie about polling stuff:
TRUMP: I’m just saying this, why aren’t you talking about your own poll? Why are you showing a CNN poll which is very good but not as good as the one you put up yesterday?
GUTHRIE: Well, I should have mentioned our NBC poll by name, but I did say in the outset that you were leading in every poll, but I meant —
TRUMP: You put up the CNN poll, you didn’t put up the NBC poll and you’re the ones that are paying for the NBC poll so I don’t get it other than the NBC poll is a very good poll for Trump.
Understandable that Trump would object to running the CNN poll over the NBC News online survey. The former, after all, positioned Trump with a 24-to-15 bulge over rival and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina.
Trump’s pique over NBC News’s poll emphases boiled over on Monday night vis-a-vis another quite prominent television network:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2015
Indeed, “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday night cited the CNN poll in its horse-race coverage of the 2016 race. “On the Republican side, Donald Trump continues to lead with 24 percent — that’s down eight points since early September.”
Fox News’s unwillingness to embrace the NBC numbers has really rankled Trump, to judge from the candidate’s interview this morning with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “They are not fair to me and I’ve expressed it to them. They understand. For instance, they won’t put up certain poll numbers, and the poll numbers are phenomenal for Trump. And so I say why won’t you put up the numbers and they say we won’t put up the numbers.”
Camerota supposed that the reason was that the NBC thing was an online survey — not as legitimate as more traditional methods.
Fox News is with Camerota. According to a Fox News spokesperson, the network prefers to focus on polls that use live interviewers and random sampling techniques. These standards underlay the network’s rankings for choosing Republican candidates in its Aug. 6 primary debate in Cleveland. On last evening’s “Special Report,” host Bret Baier noted, “I must say, he got very upset that we didn’t put up online polls. However, our poll, which we do trust — he went up one [point].” The peg for Baier’s remarks was the ruckus of yesterday, in which Trump tweeted a boycott of Fox News based on his dissatisfaction with the coverage. Fox News proceeded to point out that its cancellation of a scheduled Trump appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” actually preceded this boycott.
Polling itself is in disarray these days on account of declining response rates and the rising costs of interviewing people who are reachable only by cellular phones. Even MSM stalwarts such as the New York Times and CBS News have begun embracing online surveys as a way to plumb public opinion on politics — though computer polling has long been criticized as too easily corruptible by polling graybeards. That said, Fox News remains on solid ground in preferring to rely on traditional polling techniques. Not that Trump appreciates any of these minutiae: He likes whatever survey shows him with the biggest lead.