"...if you combine the 40 percent who prefer civil unions with the 17 percent who say that no status should be recognized, you arrive at a majority of 57 percent who oppose gay marriage when civil unions are available. Based on this question, a reasonable person — or at least an astute reporter — could conclude that most New Jerseyans do not support legalizing gay marriage.
Unfortunately, the media outlets that chose to report this poll — not everyone did by the way — took the pollster’s headline at face value. They did this even though contradictory results were included in the very first paragraph of the pollster’s own press release.
... The media love reporting on polls and the public love reading about them. That’s because well-conducted polls reflect who we are as a society. But we are being inundated with more and more polls from pollsters and organizations with specific agendas.
Unfortunately, when these less legitimate polls make it into the mainstream media, it stokes the public’s distrust of all polls. And if the media do not distinguish between the good and the bad, how can we expect the public to do the same?