Analysis | A new Fox poll has Biden up. Fox’s prime-time hosts didn’t mention it. (2024)

When Fox News has new polling, it often gives evening news host Bret Baier the honor of unveiling them. So on Wednesday evening, Baier opened his show with new numbers from the channel’s well-regarded pollsters.

“Good evening. I’m Bret Baier,” he began. “We are releasing new Fox polls right now about the presidential race. President Biden gets his best result this election cycle in the head-to-head against former president Donald Trump. He leads 50 to 48. That is within the margin of error.”

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Baier went on to show the recent trend in Fox’s polling, from a five-point Trump lead in March to a one-point lead last month.

“Again,” he reiterated, “all within the margin of error. A very tight race.”

True. Fair. The trend since March has favored Biden, but the difference between Trump leading by one point in May and trailing by two in June is not itself significant. It is a very tight race — maybe slightly tighter than a few weeks ago, but otherwise consistently close.

The result, though, was the first time Biden had led in Fox’s polling since October. That is not news that most Fox News viewers, a group that skews Republican and heavily pro-Trump, is interested in hearing. So, for the rest of the evening, Fox News didn’t talk about it much.

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Baier also had other stuff to get to before digging into the findings. He transitioned from a report about the poll into a story about a violent attack in New York City allegedly committed by an immigrant in the country illegally — the sort of story that comports entirely with Trump’s campaign strategy.

At the end of his hour, he welcomed several panelists on to discuss the poll numbers. One panelists touted the findings as good news for Biden. Another, the Washington Times’s Charles Hurt, shrugged at the finding that Americans were motivated by the perceived threat to democracy.

“At the end of the day, these elections usually don’t turn on amorphous things like the future of democracy,” he said. “Elections turn on things that really matter,” like the economy and the border — issues where Trump has more of an advantage.

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The show before Baier’s is “The Five,” a chatty opinion show that generally noodles over whatever culture war issue is animating the right in the moment. On Wednesday’s episode, that meant discussing reporting from Axios in which Democratic consultants fretted about Biden’s positioning.

Co-host Jesse Watters figured he knew why.

“If you look at polling, polling doesn’t change around June,” he claimed. “It usually locks in right about now. [They] must be freaking out.”

That isn’t true; there are often shifts in polling in the final months of a race. Less than an hour later, of course, Fox News was about to offer evidence of such a shift. About three hours later, on Watter’s own show, he didn’t mention the new Fox News data. Instead, he ran a segment about how Democrats and the left were in denial about recent polling.

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On Laura Ingraham’s show, which aired right after Baier’s, there was similarly no mention of the poll — save for a comment from guest Byron York about one of the other questions it included. On “Gutfeld!,” the channel’s putative late-night comedy show, host Greg Gutfeld mentioned polling only to make a joke about recent data from CBS News.

Fox News’s homepage had an interesting spin Wednesday morning. The summary indicated that “Biden snaps year-long streak” — adding that this came “as Trump gets good news from new voters.” When Trump had that big lead in March, the homepage also presented it as good news for Trump: “Key group of voters abandons Biden for Trump in major reversal of 2020, poll finds.”

Fox’s flagship morning show did bring up the poll Thursday morning. “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy introduced it in the 6 a.m. hour, calling it “big.” A reporter outlined the findings, again emphasizing the margin of error and the underlying questions that were better for Trump.

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Host Brian Kilmeade suggested to viewers that the overall shift was unimportant and that “most would say” that the details of individual polls are more important. Co-host Lawrence Jones, meanwhile, offered praise for Trump’s inclusion of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on his debate prep team since Rubio “goes on all the other channels and just goes into the enemy’s camp.” (If the other channels are Republicans’ enemies, then what is Fox?)

In the 7 a.m. hour, “Fox & Friends” opened by talking about the poll again — but focusing on the numbers on the economy.

“Only about a third of you think the economy right now is good or excellent,” Doocy said. “Two-thirds say it’s fair or poor — and something like that is not good for the current president.”

Half an hour later, co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed one of the pollsters.

“I think we’re seeing a little bit of a shift,” Lee Carter said. “This isn’t anything seismic.” She pointed to movement among independents, noting improvement in Biden’s numbers on the economy.

Again, that framing is accurate and fair. It was also not given much airtime on the channel that sponsored the poll.

Analysis | A new Fox poll has Biden up. Fox’s prime-time hosts didn’t mention it. (2024)

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