Recent poll on Dem race needs more upfront disclosure
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This weekend's NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has been widely reported all over Sunday's news media and on the Internet: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE now leads Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWarren joins Sanders in support of striking McDonald's workers Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE (I-Vt.) by only 42 percent to 35 percent in the race for the Democratic nomination.

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At the very end of the press release, it is revealed that the poll is based on 256 Democratic primary voters nationwide, which is a margin of error of plus/minus 6 percentage points.

Is that a responsible polling sample, with such a large margin of error?

In fact, the margin of error of plus/minus 6 percentage points means the results could be either that Clinton leads by 48 percent to 29 percent (plus 19 percentage points) or that Sanders leads 41 percent to 36 percent (plus 5 percentage points). Statistically, either result could be true, according to the poll's own data. That is a fact.

Shouldn't the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll have disclosed that fact more prominently in the press release and warned against inaccurate headlines that ignore the small sample size and large margin of error?

Shouldn't other journalists writing about this poll disclose that fact, that the poll shows that Clinton could lead by 19 percentage points or that Sanders could lead by 5 percentage points — and either result is equally statistically possible?

Isn't that type of factual disclosure obligatory?

Davis is a regular columnist for The Hill. He served as special counsel to President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonHypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC Getting politics out of the pit Kavanaugh and the 'boys will be boys' sentiment is a poor excuse for bad behavior MORE from 1996 to 1998. He is principal in the Washington law firm Lanny J. Davis & Associates and is executive vice president of Levick, a strategic communications firm. He has no position in the Hillary for America campaign. He is a friend and supporter of Secretary Clinton.