September 2003 Archives

September 14, 2003

The Unscientific Nature of Poll Reporting

I've said before that one of the biggest areas in which media bias can manifest itself unintentionally is in poll report. Polling is a science involving various sampling techniques, question strategies, and methods of contacting respondents. As such, most all polls can tell us something about how the electorate will vote in upcoming elections. However, when reporting poll findings, journalists (especially TV journalists) often fail to keep results in their proper scientific context, thereby gleaning the wrong message from the data, usually a more favorable one. My argument is best made by looking at several recent polls and what you aren't hearing from journalists.

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September 7, 2003

Dean's Big Mistake

[From the Chicago Report]

Dean is queitly making his first big mistake of Election 2004, even though much of his supporters are unlikely to notice. McCain, like Dean, was known for his "Straight Talk"; his say-what-I-mean-and-mean-what-I-say attitude was the secret to his overnight rise from dark horse to front runner. After McCain won big in New Hampshire, which Dean is likely to do, his campaign caught fire. But Maverick Johnny made one fatal mistake, playing to his strengths instead of his weaknesses. As he became more popular he stepped up the anti-status quo rhetoric. He didn't go out of his way to answer his critics but instead waxed on about Skywalker and the Death Star. Inevitably McCain went to the well one too many times with his anti-special interest mantra, condemning Pat Robertson (and thus a Republican constituency) of being an "agent of intolerance." By this point, any hopes McCain had of broad appeal were dashed. Not necessarily as a result of this specific statement, but as a result of over-playing the maverick role, to the point of making the less idealist mainstream voter concerned about his ability to govern effectively.

What does this have to do with Dean? Everything, obviously.

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September 5, 2003

Machiavellian Advice

Don't give Dean a free ride! Have you ever noticed that, despite the repeated promises to the contrary, every campaign goes negative at some point? Itís a fact of politics and the higher the stakes the dirtier it gets. The secret is being able to attack your opponent with a smile on your face; be negative in a positive way. Yeah I know, itís a contradiction but you get the point. So far Lieberman is showing himself to be the wisest of the bunch, forecasting that "The Bush recession would be followed by the Dean depression." If you know a fight is inevitable, there is no shame in taking the first punch. Dean is likely McCain-esque and prone to mistakes when heís angry. The Dems need to realize that they have to beat him before they beat Bush

Candidatos Democratas

I hardly think the Democrats could make their desperation and "divide and conquer" politics more obvious. In Thursday's debate they stood beneath a bilingual debate sign and even attempted to turn a phrase or two in espaŮol. The problem is that Latinos are a different kind of bloc. They tend toward very conservative social politics but liberal economics. Bush was able to win lots of Latino votes in 2000 based on his "progressive" attitude toward immigration. But since 9/11 that attitude has changed substantially. Democrats are probably going to try to push him on this and will probably regain most of their lost Latino votes. The risk however is two fold. The Dems have to be careful not to offend their labor constituents who are often anti-immigration. So don't expect Gephardt to pander as much as the others; he has the most to lose. The other risk is appearing weak on border control, i.e. National Security.