Rep. Chris Stewart says media pushed flawed polls to manipulate public opinion

(Photo courtesy of the White House) Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, posted this photo on Twitter on Nov. 5, 2019, saying he had recently met with President Donald Trump. He said they talked about the nation's "most pressing issues." Stewart on Thursday suggest the news media intentionally manipulates polls to try to manipulate voters.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart floated a theory online Thursday about why polls were so far off actual voting margins in two straight presidential elections: It’s because the mainstream media is intentionally skewing them to try to mold public opinion.

“They weren’t just incredibly wrong again. They’re not that incompetent. They didn’t just make a mistake. They made a decision,” the conservative Republican posted on both Facebook and Twitter.

He continued, “They said we’re willing to be wrong in order to shape public opinion. No one will hold us accountable. A week after the election it won’t matter. We’re going to spend two years telling the country that Trump is going to lose, knowing it would have an affect [sic]. It’s nothing less than voter manipulation.”

Stewart’s posts brought swift and widespread reaction on social media — some humorous, many condemning, and a few that were supportive.

David Mcfarlane wrote sarcastically on Facebook, “Right, right. At the last Mainstream Media Polling Cabal meeting I attended, I recall leadership presenting exactly this agenda. He said something like, ‘It’s easier for people to believe in massive, coordinated conspiracies than simple human error, so we may be found out in the end, but the reward will be worth it!’ Then we all laughed like maniacs and did that little fingertip dance. Good times.”

Mary Gadd wrote, “If mainstream media can influence voters like that then why haven’t we easily taken the Senate and a super majority of the House? I cannot find the words to express the dissatisfaction I have when Republicans lose and you cry a foul and it was someone else’s fault. When Democrats lose they say `we didn’t mobilize or engage enough.'”

Bill Christensen, a business professor at Dixie State University, wrote, “You’ve been drinking too much of that DC kool-aid Congressman. If there’s going to be any mudslinging, most of it is headed towards the GOP, not the media.”

Amerah A. Ames posted, “You have a point, since everyone in the country clearly loves trump this is the only possible truth.”

Stacee Adams wrote on Facebook to Stewart, “This post is super frustrating to read as one of your constituents. Polls are snapshot in time. Anyone who chooses to read more into them than that is responsible for their own misinformation.”

“You have no idea the impact these polls have on voters,” wrote Rebekah Tripp Cummings. “It’s just as likely that polls showing Biden way ahead makes soft Biden voters decide to skip voting because it’s a done deal or vote for Kanye because they don’t think it’s going to be close…. It’s conspiratorial and irresponsible to assume the professional pollsters aren’t trying their best to be accurate, especially when their credibility and livelihood relies on reliable polling.”

Carol Hansen posted, "And what do you call Trump’s tweets? I call them divisive lies. What can YOU do as our representative to bring people together and accept that democracy is working?

David Gellner wrote, "Voter manipulation? Like asking counting to be stopped? Like removing post office equipment and boxes to prevent mail in votes? Like having armed folks in Trump gear patrolling near polling locations to intimidate voters? Like having some of those same folks trying to physically block streets to prevent people from voting? "

Beth Adams tweeted, “Are your kidding? TRUMP manipulated the GOP base by aggressively claiming that mail-in voting is fraudulent. Then he literally demanded we stop counting votes & then prematurely declared himself the winner, until he realized the counting votes in AZ would favor him. #GOPHypocrisy

Stewart now is among Trump’s most staunch supporters. However before the 2016 election, Stewart called Trump “our Mussolini” at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, but months later said he was joking.

A video clip of that comment may have cost Stewart an appointment as Air Force secretary, according to a Bloomberg News story earlier this year. It said Trump was close to appointing Stewart until he heard about the Mussolini statement, and then changed course.

Stewart is handily winning reelection to a fifth term, with the last count showing him trouncing Democratic challenger Kael Weston 62%-34%. But in Salt Lake County, voters showed their displeasure with their representative, voting for Weston by a better than 2-to-1 margin.