For Immediate Release
December 20, 2010
Contacts: Neil Tickner, 301 405 4622 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Poll: 2010 Voters Misinformed on Key Issues
Includes Viewers of Fox News, MSNBC, and other Media
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A new poll finds both a widespread perception by 2010 voters of misinformation in the election campaign, as well as strong evidence that many actually were misinformed on key issues. The election was the first since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on election-related advertising.
The poll - conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, based at the University of Maryland, and Knowledge Networks - shows that 9 in 10 voters last November had encountered what they considered false or misleading information during the campaign. According to 56 percent of respondents, this campaign misinformation occurred frequently, while 54 percent found it more frequent than usual. Only three percent found it less frequent than usual.
Further, the study finds indications of voters misinformed on key issues - that is, they display beliefs at odds with the conclusions of government agencies generally regarded as non-partisan, consisting of professional economists and scientists. Voter misinformation correlates with their exposure to certain news sources, as well as the way they cast their ballot.
Specifically, the study finds varying degrees of misinformation among viewers of Fox News, the broadcast TV network newscasts, MSNBC and public broadcasting.
"While we do not have data to make a clear comparison to the past, this high level of misinformation and the fact that voters perceived a higher than usual level of false and misleading information, suggests that the increased flow of money into political advertising may have contributed to a higher level of misinformation," said Clay Ramsay, WorldPublicOpinion.org research director.
In most cases, those with greater levels of exposure to news sources have lower levels of misinformation. There are, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source actually increases misinformation on some issues.
For example, those who watched Fox News almost daily are significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe:
There are cases with other news sources as well:
The poll of 848 Americans was fielded from November 6 to 15, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent. It was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population.
WorldPublicOpinion.org is a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy and funded by the Calvert Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
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