President Donald Trump was so displeased with a recent CNN poll showing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden beating him by nearly 15 points that he is now demanding that they retract it and apologize.
The letter sent to CNN President Jeff Zucker said that the poll was “designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling,” per CNN. It was signed by Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and chief operating officer Michael Glassner.
“It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President,” it continued, asking for an apology and correction to clear up the poll’s “misleading conclusions.”
CNN’s general counsel David Vigilante was scathing in response.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results,” he wrote. “To the extent that we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.”
He also bashed Trump’s new campaign pollster, John McLaughlin, citing his wildly wrong polling on former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary and C/D rating from FiveThirtyEight.
“Your letter is factually and legally baseless,” Vigilante concludes. “It is yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear. Your allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety.”
Much of the Trump campaign letter reportedly corresponded to a memo written by McLaughlin that hangs on the bogus theory of unskewing polls.
The idea, recycled by Republicans in every election cycle since at least 2012, is that Republicans are being under-sampled in the polls, artificially inflating the results in favor of the Democratic candidate.
The movement’s founding father, Dean Chambers, trumpeted the theory during the 2012 campaign, when former President Barack Obama was consistently leading Mitt Romney. Chambers decided that polls should be weighted by party identification — disregarding arguments that it’s a fungible metric, and that many voters change their identification from one election to the next — so he “unskewed” some national polls. And all of a sudden, Romney started winning.
Chambers actually admitted that his methodology was wrong after Obama easily won reelection. Still, it’s been resurrected periodically since.
McLaughlin is now claiming that the upset in 2016 was based on “skewed” polls (it wasn’t) and that the polls this time around are being manipulated to dampen voter enthusiasm for the President. He even took umbrage at the fact that the poll was put into the field “before the great economic news” of a downtick in the joblessness rate on Friday. Besides the fact that it isn’t pollsters’ job to time their polls according to positive news for the President, the CNN poll was actually still in the field during the day Friday.
CNN is standing by its poll, which shows Trump lagging behind Biden at 41 percent to 55.