Is Bad News Biased? How Poll Reporting Affects Perceptions of Media Bias and Presumed Voter Behavior

Mallory R. Perryman, Jordan Foley, Michael W. Wagner


Battleground state polls are a prominent part of U.S. election news coverage. In this experimental study (N = 863), we tested how polling results impact how partisans evaluate the news stories through which the polls are reported. Consistent with the hostile media perception, partisans tended to see articles as biased against their candidate, and perceived bias was amplified when their candidate trailed in the poll. Additionally, we found that a majority of news consumers believed the article would encourage their political copartisans in battleground states to vote, but would not impact the voting behavior of their political opponents.


hostile media perception, election polls, presumed media influence, perceived media effects, 2016 U.S. presidential election

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