December 6, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Media Bias: A Tale of 2 Polls

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Kansas media widely covered a public opinion poll showing a majority of respondents supported budget-neutral expansion of Medicaid, or KanCare, but media outlets ignored a recent poll showing a majority of Kansans are opposed to increased taxes.

The Medicaid expansion poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in February 2016, showed 62 percent of respondents support expanding Medicaid, if it doesn’t cost the state more money. The Kansas Hospital Association, a 501c3 non-profit organization, commissioned the poll. With a margin of error of 4.3, the poll surveyed 500 likely Kansas voters. Media across the state covered the results. It’s still receiving press mentions today as proposals to expand KanCare are before the legislature. Here is a partial list of stories that mention that poll’s results:

KPI Public Opinion Poll

Traditional media ignored a Kansas Policy Institute poll released on Feb. 8. The poll showed that a majority of respondents prefer legislators cut spending instead of increasing taxes to balance the budget. Non-traditional media linked to the KPI poll. The Sentinel and Wichita Liberty covered the results.

KPI commissioned the poll of 501 registered Kansas voters. Like the Kansas Hospital Association, KPI is a non-profit 501c3 organization. James Franko, KPI vice president and policy director, sent a press release announcing the findings to Kansas media. He followed up with emails to statehouse reporters. To date, none have run stories about the poll, despite related bills before the Kansas Legislature.

Franko said he mentioned the poll to legislative committees during hearings.

“It still has not been mentioned in the press,” he said.

KPI’s poll revealed that only 21 percent of respondents support raising taxes on small businesses, and 38 percent of respondents want the legislature to reduce the cost of government to address budget shortfalls. The poll has a 4.5 margin or error. Franko says the poll’s results are an “inconvenient truth” for media.

“If it’s a poll saying Kansans don’t want more taxes, or if it’s a study that says tax cuts are stimulating job growth, coverage is conspicuously absent,” Franko said.




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