Sean Spicer Touts Incredibly Misleading Headline on Travel Ban Poll

Most polls indicate that a majority of Americans oppose Trump's travel ban. (Photo: Masha George/Flickr/cc)

Sean Spicer Touts Incredibly Misleading Headline on Travel Ban Poll

"Politico did not even ask a polling question about the latest version of Trump's travel ban."

Results of a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday initially appeared to signify a victory for the Trump administration in the court of public opinion, and they were quickly met with celebration by White House officials.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was the first to tout the poll results on Twitter, and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway soon followed.

The problem, as further examination quickly revealed, is that Politico's portrayal of the poll's findings in its headline--"Poll: Majority of voters back Trump travel ban"--is terribly misleading. Judd Legum of ThinkProgressargued that the poll's presentation is so misleading that it should be classified as "fake news."

"Politico did not even ask a polling question about the latest version of Trump's travel ban, which is expressed in a March 7 executive order," Legum noted. "Rather, the poll asked about 'new guidelines which say visa applicants from six predominately Muslim countries must prove a close family relationship with a U.S. resident in order to enter the country. These guidelines are not Trump's policy, but a requirement imposed through a per curium order of the Supreme Court."

Legum goes on to note that the Trump administration opposes the exception the Supreme Court granted to those with "a close family relationship with a U.S. resident" and is "actively fighting this requirement."

In the body of his story on the poll, Politico's Steven Shepard notes that the poll's question "doesn't mention Trump, nor does it refer to the president's executive orders on immigration," a line that appears to render the Trump administration's applause inappropriate.

Shepard also observes that other polls have largely found "greater opposition to the policy," further undermining the enthusiasm of Conway and Spicer.

A June AP-NORC poll found that a majority of Americans supported the courts that ruled against the travel ban. In May, a Quinnipiac University poll similarly found that 55 percent of Americans oppose the ban.

"In sum," Legum concludes, "Politico substituted a policy that Trump opposes, called it 'Trump's travel ban' and is using it to claim that 'Trump's travel ban has majority support."

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