Nagourney On The Times Story

Adam Nagourney, the Times's chief political correspondent, e-mails with some thoughts about his story:

This was a long and detailed poll that yielded a lot of interesting results. We could have chosen to focus on any number of themes; we decided to focus mainly on what we could learn from the poll about how blacks, whites and Hispanics view politics and society at the critical moment. The critique from the Obama campaign seems to be directed at findings from the poll that we did not address in much depth in the story, particularly the head to head matchups between the two candidates.

We make our polls public in the spirit of transparency and so that others can take a look and draw their own conclusions. In this case, there's plenty of data to consider on about questions we did not include in our story, and there are other valid ways of framing the results.

But we are comfortable that our story accurately captured the results on the questions that most struck us, those that sought to illuminate how blacks, whites and Hispanics see the United States at a moment when Senator Obama's candidacy is putting race front and center in a new way.

One last point: I do think there is room for discussion about the headline – “Poll Finds Obama Candidacy Isn’t Closing Divide on Race”. The point of the story is that black respondents apparently do not see the fact of Mr. Obama’s candidacy as evidence of significant improvement in race relations. The story does not suggest that there is some onus on Mr. Obama himself to be closing this divide. I also, on a smaller matter – and the one matter the Obama campaign did raise with me – should have included, in saying that 20 percent of white voters had a favorable view of Michelle Obama, the fact that 72 percent either have no opinion about Mrs. Obama or hadn’t heard enough about her, to avoid any suggestion that 80 percent had an unfavorable view of her.