No fewer than five different polls conducted during the last months of the 2008 presidential campaign found the public strongly believed that the news media was biased in favor of Democrat Barack Obama in his campaign against Republican John McCain. In July, a Rasmussen poll found more than three times as many voters saw journalists favoring Obama; by October, a Pew Research Center poll discovered the margin had grown to nearly 8-to-1.
A Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 likely voters released July 21 'found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44 percent a month ago,' compared to a piddling 14 percent who think 'most reporters will try to help John McCain win.'
A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of 900 registered voters released July 24 found '67 percent of the respondents think most media members want Obama to win. Just 11 percent think most in the media are for McCain.' As for the objectivity of news coverage, the poll found 'Americans feel Obama gets more of a positive spin by a better than 7-to-1 margin (46 percent more positive toward Obama; 6 percent more positive toward McCain).'
A Sacred Heart University national poll of 800 voters released in August 2008 found 'more than two-thirds of Americans included in this poll, 67.9%, believed U.S. Senator Barack Obama is receiving the most favorable coverage,' compared to 'just 11.1%' who said McCain was getting better press treatment. Just under two-thirds (64.9%) say the media'love affair' with Obama was either very real (30.5%) or somewhat real (34.4%).
A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters released September 10 confirmed the public's view that the press favored Obama: 'Seven out of 10 voters (69%) remain convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Barack Obama.'
A Pew Research Center poll released just before the election (October 22) found 'voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election. By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4.' Pew found the belief crossed party lines: '90% of GOP voters say most journalists are pulling for Obama. More than six-in-ten Democratic and independent voters (62% each) say the same.'
The October 22 Pew poll also found: 'In recent presidential campaigns, voters repeatedly have said they thought journalists favored the Democratic candidate over the Republican. But this year's margin is particularly wide.' Data from 1992 through 2004 showed much more balanced public assessments of the media's fairness in those presidential campaigns.