Political Animal


October 18, 2011 4:55 PM Doug Schoen isn’t helping his reputation

By Steve Benen

Pollster Doug Schoen is the quintessential “Fox News Democrat.” He loosely identifies himself as a Dem, but as someone who’s actively hostile towards Dems and the party’s agenda, Schoen is really only popular as a personality in GOP media. Fox News gets to tout its “balance” by inviting him on the air — Republicans who hate Democrats are joined by Democrats who hate Democrats.

With that in mind, Schoen has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, urging President Obama to steer clear of the “radical” Occupy Wall Street protesters for his own good. (Given that Schoen has already urged the president to drop out of the 2012 race, one might question whether the Fox News Democrat has Obama’s best interest at heart.)

The op-ed’s analysis is strikingly weak. Apparently, Schoen conducted a poll of nearly 200 OWS demonstrators in New York’s Zuccotti Park the other day, and uncovered evidence of the burgeoning movement’s “radicalism.” Like what? Well, it turns out, 77% of the activists support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

That’s not especially shocking — a CNN poll released yesterday found 76% of the national population supports the same thing. Indeed, there’s ample evidence that the American mainstream shares the same concerns being raised by the OWS protests.

But if Schoen’s op-ed was simply based on a flawed understanding of public attitudes, it’d be easier to ignore. Instead, Schoen argued that the activists oppose “free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth,” when in fact his own research suggests otherwise.

At Capital New York, Azi Paybarah has obtained the full poll results, and Schoen appears to have grossly misrepresented the results of his poll. He writes that a “large majority” are bound together by support for a “radical redistribution of wealth.” But when he asked the protesters what they’d like the Occupy Wall Street movement to achieve just 4 percent said “radical redistribution of wealth,” which tied for last on the list of answers given. There is no mention of “radical redistribution of wealth” anywhere else in the poll. […]

Similarly while Schoen writes that a “large majority” express “opposition to free-market capitalism,” when asked what frustrates them most about the U.S. political process, just 3 percent named “our democratic/capitalist system.” Out of 198 respondents, that amounts to 5 or 6 people, which is quite the opposite of a large majority.

After Schoen’s incessant condemnations of Democrats, and praise for right-wing Tea Party activists, his credibility has crumbled. Today’s op-ed probably won’t help restore his reputation.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • kevo on October 18, 2011 5:03 PM:

    Someone needs to point out to the dishonorable Mr. Douglass Schoen that duplicitous souls in this world will have a very rough time of it in their afterlives, where God gets very ugly toward fools, dupes, and other common ne'erdowells!

    Douglass, try to make peace with your mother, wherever she is! -Kevo

  • Robert Waldmann on October 18, 2011 5:16 PM:

    He isn't hurting his reputation either. My favorite legal motion of all time was the argument by (reputable TV news organization) that it couldn't have damaged Ariel Sharron's reputation by allegedly slanderous assertions, because his reputation couldn't possibly get any worse than it was already. The wonderful motion was rejected and the news organization was found not to be liable because their accusations were true.

    Similarly Schoen can't possible have damaged his own reputation.

  • slappy magoo on October 18, 2011 5:18 PM:

    Schoen isn't in this for his reputation, he's paid well to ignore anything that reminds him he has a soul. He's here to push a narrative from the right whilst pretending he's of the left. He's like Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night, but for douchebags.

  • T2 on October 18, 2011 5:21 PM:

    if the guy is on FOX, then he's a clown.

  • square1 on October 18, 2011 5:24 PM:

    He does it because he is allowed to get away with it. While I have read hundreds of blog posts over the years regarding Fox News Democrats, not once have I ever heard or read a peep from the party establishment. I mean, does this guy STILL have Democratic clients? If so, why? And, if not, why don't party leaders make public that he Schoen longer works for Democrats and media outlets should stop referring to him as such.

    Presumably if a GOP-affiliated consultant ran around on TV bashing the GOP, he would get cut off from the trough tout de suite.

    Can you imagine the apoplexy if media outlets referred to Media Matters' David Brock as a Republican based on his GOP ties from the 90s? Republicans would go ape-shit. But Democratic leaders don't seem to care a whit when Schoen and others go around trashing the Democratic brand.

  • Gov't Mule on October 18, 2011 5:24 PM:

    Any poll that has fewer than 500 respondents is garbage. Schoen should know this, but he must come from the Mark Penn/Pat Caddell/Dick Morris school of Hackery. After all, he's the guy with the brilliant strategy for President Obama to resign instead of seeking reelection.

  • Chris on October 18, 2011 5:43 PM:

    "Fox News gets to tout its “balance” by inviting him on the air — Republicans who hate Democrats are joined by Democrats who hate Democrats."

    Speaking of Democrats who hate Democrats, catch Harold Ford on Morning Joe from time to time.

  • Gummitch on October 18, 2011 5:43 PM:


  • c u n d gulag on October 18, 2011 5:44 PM:

    This scumbag never had any credibility.

    He's always been a Mata 'Hairy.' A Conservative in Liberal's clothing.

    It would be helpful if the intire Pary everyone that he can go on FOX all the wants - just as long as he NO LONGER identifies himself as a Democrat.

    And that goes for a LOT of Democratic political advisors.

    DINPO's - Democrats In Paychecks Only!!!

  • sw on October 18, 2011 6:57 PM:

    I'd like to know who gives a flying fuck what these ass hats think. They are the problem. They are simply highlighting the fact that they are the problem. Thanks for pointing that out and making yourself so conspicuous dickweed.

  • ethan on October 18, 2011 9:09 PM:

    I don't think Azi Paybarah actually got a copy...if you look at the copy is says it is from Douglas Schoen LLC...but schoen's company is Penn, Schoen & Berland. Also, download the file (which is a simple word document that any one could create) the document was created by "user" I am pretty sure Schoen would have his name on the document if it was real...

    I am just saying this "supposed" document doesn't look authentic and it certainly is not the "raw" numbers that mr paybarah reports it to be...

  • Sparko on October 18, 2011 9:15 PM:

    Schoen is the ringer evil wrestler brought into the ring to whip up the crowd. Fox News follows the pro wrestler formula of pretend narratives and duped believers.

    In other news, they are getting stuck in the brier patch and would love company.

  • bob h on October 19, 2011 6:32 AM:

    Only in the rightwing mind is a 3% increase in the top marginal tax rates a "radical redistribution of wealth".

  • jim filyaw on October 19, 2011 9:29 AM:

    ronald reagan was a far better ex-democrat. at least he had the decency to admit he was no longer a democrat. of course, he wasn't to make a bundle off deceit.

  • Rick Massimo on October 19, 2011 11:46 AM:

    "Instead, Schoen argued that the activists oppose �free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth,� when in fact his own research suggests otherwise."

    I've heard this rhetorical scam before. One of the more popular answers in his poll was that the protesters hope to drag the Democratic Party leftward. In Douglas Schoen's mind, "Democratic Party" = "opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth," so he thinks he's telling the truth here.

    It's like when they said Democrats want the terrorists to win.

  • robert on October 19, 2011 2:38 PM:

    "I mean, does this guy STILL have Democratic clients? If so, why?"

    If you are out for a prostitute you want a good prostitute.

  • The Fool on October 19, 2011 4:08 PM:

    Somebody ought to report that asshole to the American Association of Public Opinion Research. His utter misrepresentation of the results of his own poll is completely unethical and Penn shoudl be drummed out of the polling business.

    On a side note, someone above said no poll with under 500 respondents is any good. That is not true. Polls are frequently done with fewer than 500 respondents. The key is random sampling. The difference between having a random sample of 500 versus, e.g. 400, is only a difference between a margin of error of +/-4.4% compared to +/-4.9%.

    Assuming Schoen's sample of 198 was random, his poll would have a margin of error of +/-7.0%. That margin of error is too big for some purposes but is fine for many others.

  • The Fool on October 19, 2011 4:10 PM:

    Oops, I meant Schoen ought to be drummed out of the business.

    Penn should be drummed out also but not for the sins of Schoen.

  • dada on October 20, 2011 2:34 AM:

    Gallup Poll shows that while majority of Americans blame both federal government and Wall Street for financial collapse/economy, if they are asked to pick one more than the other, about 70% picked federal government over Wall Street.

    Gallup also shows that more than 80% Tea Party supporters (23% of Americans) blame the government and somewhat wall street while more than 80% of Occupy supporters (26% of Americans) blame Wall street over the government.

    however, majority of Republicans and independents blame government more than Wall Street by far. and even Democrats blame government over Wall Street in the same survey, showing that Occupy protestors are not so with the general public just as Tea Partiers are not, though both groups have some overlapping opinions as well.

    (though my guess is that Republicans mean the Federal Reserve and Obama while democrats mean Bush when they say "government" while independent blame both presidents, slightly more Bush)

    While there are slightly more Americans feel favorable to Occupy than unfavorable, most Americans say they are not sure/don't know.

    So i also think Obama should be careful not to assume Occupy group to support him and win more independents to him since they are politically not clear yet. it's too early to tell.

    having said that, i am glad that those protestors move the Washington conversations away from Tea Partiers' debt and austerity a bit. it's not that we don't need to think about debt right now, but we should think about short-term economy booth and long term investment as well, which they kind of ignored so far.

    OWS seem to oppose (at least severe or immediate) austerity, especially for education and they seem to believe that government can and should do more for job creations and tax reform (to tax the rich more),
    but they bring the income inequality and declining middle class in America and the world of the last 30 years finally.

    I hope that OWS will not turn violent and move too far left to the point of "no nuclear weapons" "no cut to social security" "punish the rich just because they are rich" level.