Four different polls conducted in the last days and immediate aftermath of the 2004 presidential campaign discovered that more voters saw the media as biased in favor of Democratic candidate John Kerry than Republican George W. Bush. Polls by the Pew Research Center and Gallup in the final weeks of the campaign found twice as many thought the media had been biased in favor of Kerry than saw a pro-Bush tilt. An Election Day survey of voters in 12 battleground states also found one out of every three voters (32 percent) thought news coverage was biased in favor of Kerry and the Democrats, compared to just 14 percent who thought the media were slanted in favor of Bush and the Republicans. And a Pew Research Center poll conducted after the election found that 40 percent of voters believed that media coverage of President Bush had been unfair, compared to 31 percent who thought Senator Kerry's coverage was unfair.
A Gallup poll of 1,538 registered voters conducted October 22-24, 2004 found a plurality (45 percent) thought the media coverage has not been biased toward either candidate. But of the remainder, most (35 percent) said the coverage had been biased in Kerry's favor, while fewer than half that number (16 percent) thought coverage had been biased in favor of Bush.
The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,307 registered voters between October 15-19, 2004. 'Half of voters (50 percent) say most newspaper and TV reporters would prefer to see John Kerry win the election, compared with just 22 percent who think that most journalists are pulling for George Bush,' Pew reported.
That pre-election poll also found that a large majority of voters thought the news media had too much clout: 'Nearly six-in-ten (62 percent) say news organizations have too much influence in determining the election's outcome; only about half that number (32 percent) feel that the media's influence is appropriate.'
A poll of 1,000 voters conducted on Election Day by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates of voters in 12 closely-fought 'battleground' states found that more voters felt the news media's campaign coverage had been biased (46 percent) than thought the media coverage had not been skewed (42 percent). Of those who saw bias, more than twice as many (32 percent) said the news media had favored John Kerry as felt the media had favored George W. Bush (14 percent).
A post-election survey of 1,209 voters conducted by the Pew Research Center (November 5-8, 2004) reported that 'voters are increasingly troubled by what they see as the media's unfair treatment of the candidates. While a majority (56 percent) view press coverage of Bush's campaign as fair, four-in-ten [40 percent] think it was unfair, up from 30 percent four years ago.'
The Pew report continued: 'Significantly more voters (65 percent) believe the press was fair in its coverage of the Kerry campaign. However, a growing minority also views this coverage as unfair — 31 percent say that now, compared with 24 percent who faulted press coverage of Al Gore's campaign four years ago.'