I am fond of saying, "there's politics...and then there's reality." That's because the goal of politicians and political organizations is to shape your perception regardless of reality.
As a person who avidly engages in social media, I can also add that the Internet is also not reflective of reality.
People always need to be aware that the media is attempting to shape perceptions, as well.
Good examples this week: The folks using social networking have been raking NBC over the coals for its Olympic prime time coverage (and that includes me) but the ratings are historic. Even Ryan Seacrest, scorn of Twitter-devotees everywhere, has a high approval rating for his Olympic coverage.
Notice how the writer of the Seacrest post is shocked--because polling frequently doesn't reflect the perception being created on the Internet. He questions the polling methodology, then, in an unintentionally hilarious move, creates his own Internet poll on the question of Seacrest's popularity.
Internet polls, of course, are the most inaccurate. But it will allow the writer to restore the perception he desires in his mind--and divorce himself from reality.