Online Debate Polls: When Fun Is Taken Seriously

The Hill explains why it dropped its online debate poll.

Prior to the first presidential debate, the online poll was an an amusing diversion, like a Twitter like/retweet poll, or a Facebook Y/N post, or a five-question quiz that tells you what city you’re meant to live in, or a one-question quiz that tells you your personality based on your choice of pattern.

In this vein, the question of who won the presidential debate was asked on the websites of publications across the country. The polls and results were meant to be “fun and interesting in their own way,” as The Hill editor in chief Bob Cusack explained to FishbowlDC.

But then those completely unscientific results showing that Trump won the debate were treated as a replacement for the scientifically sound, rigorous polls that showed he didn’t win the debate. They were touted by Trump, and by people like Fox News host Sean Hannity, who, as part of FNC’s “opinion programming,” did not have to adhere to the network’s own editorial guidelines regarding the use of those polls, which was to not use them.

With the confusion created by things that should have been fun being treated as things that were legit, many organizations, including Time, CNBC, Fortune, and The Hill went and did away with those polls, as Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy reported.

The Hill made its decision right after the first debate. “These polls were sufficiently discredited that we decided to drop it after the first debate and we didn’t do it for VP either,” Cusack told FishbowlDC.

And that is why we can’t have fun things.

Publish date: October 11, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT