Harry Reid trashes the media’s obsession with polls

Holly Bailey

Basking in the glow of his re-election win in Nevada, Senator Harry Reid is all love these days, going so far as to tell reporters that he has "great respect" for Sharron Angle, a rival his campaign repeatedly derided as  "crazy" and "pathological."

But Reid hasn't forgiven all when it comes to one thing: The media's coverage of polls in the race, especially ones that showed him narrowly losing to Angle.

Per the New York Times' Adam Nagourney, Reid let loose yesterday on what he believes is the media's over-reliance on "false and misleading" polls. "I've been wanting to say this for some time: We've got to do something about these misleading polls," the Senate Majority Leader told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. "They are all over the country, they are so unfair, and you just gobble them up — no matter where they are from. You just run with them as if they are the finest piece of pastry in the world."

Almost every public poll in the Nevada race showed Reid in a virtual tie with Angle, even though Reid says his own private polling consistently showed him ahead. While Reid didn't name names, he was likely referring to polls like the Rasmussen Reports surveys that showed Angle with roughly a 4-point lead in the race. On Tuesday, he beat Angle by nearly 6 points.

"I think the press has a huge responsibility that they have not exercised appropriately," Reid said.

Rasmussen and other polling outfits including Survey USA have come under fire in recent days for their practice of using automated scripts or "robopolls," rather than live people, when conducting their surveys. According to FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, this means Rasmussen's polls have tended to add a 5-point advantage to GOP candidates — an edge that didn't prove correct in final election results.

(Photo of Harry Reid:  Ethan Miller/Getty Images)