We Forgot To Say He Was Dreamy!

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Here's a new one—Kerry lagged Bush in the polls before the debates because the media wasn't explaining how good he was. From silly L.A. Times media critic David Shaw:

What the post-debate shift in voters' perceptions of Kerry ultimately tells me, much as I hate to say it, is that the news media have done a pretty poor job of campaign coverage. If Kerry can so dramatically change how people perceive him in just 90 minutes on television—without benefit of any real knockout punches by him or serious blunders by Bush, without a genuine, confrontational debate format—it suggests to me that the media hadn't fulfilled their responsibility to tell voters what Kerry is really like, what he stands for, what he would do, who he is.

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  1. Matt,

    With all due respect where do you get: “Kerry lagged Bush in the polls before the debates because the media wasn’t explaining how good he was.”?

    I went and read the piece and no where does Shaw say anything remotely like that.

    His point – and it’s an interesting one – is simply this…if the post debate numbers for a candidate could change so dramatically, maybe it’s because (in part) the media didn’t do a very good job portraying the candidate in an accurate fashion to begin with. For good OR bad.

    Maybe you just dislike the L.A. Times…Or David Shaw.

  2. Well, the numbers are pretty well trending back to where they were before the depates. Tempest, teapot, not?

    Seriously, the establishment media is obviously softballing Kerry.

    Exhibit A: Nightline can’t be bothered to ask Kerry why he won’t release all of his military records, but will send a crew to Viet Nam to try to discredit the Swifties?

  3. The real issue is that with all of the negative press Kerry generated, and the negative campaign the Republicans were running, the expectations for Kerry were very very low, and it was easy for him to overcome those low expectations and reassure a lot of folks who are scared by Bush, the alternative isn’t that bad after all.

  4. Welch garbled the lede to make it seem sillier that it is. It’s quite simple, really. People went into the debate with an idea of what Kerry was like. They came out with a very different idea. Could the (inaccurate) image people had of Kerry before the debate POSSIBLY have anything to do with the media? You know – that collection of people from whom most people got their intitial idea of what Kerry was like?

    RC “Well, the numbers are pretty well trending back to where they were before the depates.” Kerry was pulling ahead in swing states before the debates? I don’t recall that. Also, Zogby and Rasmussan both have the race tied today – Bush was ahead prior to the debates.

  5. madpad — You’re right, I’m not a fan of David Shaw’s work (except for his Wilt Chamberlain bio). I pay the Times hundreds of dollars a year to complain about it, but I bear no hostility.

    If you accept Shaw’s premise that the first debate showed voters some *reality* that they previously weren’t getting from the news media, and that whatever that reality was improved the public’s impression of Kerry by 10 percentage points (or whatever), then I think it’s a logical inference that the news media, in this analysis, portrayed Kerry too negatively. Which is another way of saying “wasn’t explaining how good he was.” So, I’m giving what I think to be the *logical conclusion* of the column’s thinking, not a verbatim account of that thinking.

    But to be fair to Mr. Shaw for a second (it can happen), I think there is a point in his point, but it has more to do with the facts that A) people take less and less cues from major news outlets, and B) 90 minutes of televized mano-a-mano simply provides information that no other presentation can convey, period.

  6. it suggests to me that the media hadn’t fulfilled their responsibility to tell voters what Kerry is really like, what he stands for, what he would do, who he is.

    Isn’t this really the candidate’s job?

  7. Matt,

    Fair enough…I can see the *logical conclusion*, although in context of the full article I don’t think I’d read that much into it.

    And on B), you make a good point. No matter how much you may know (or think you know) about a candidate, we ALL wanto to see how they’ll scrap against the other guy.

  8. joe, if you check out realclearpolitics, you will see that polls other than Rasmussen and Zogby give Bush a substantial lead, and that the polls average out to nearly a four-point lead for Bush, which is about what it was before the debate.

    Kerry is pulling out of a number of Gore or swing states altogether, effectively conceding them to Bush and writing off tens of millions of dollars of advertising.

    Kerry has put up some better numbers recently in a handful of swing states, I’m thinking Ohio and Pennsylvania and maybe Florida here, but right now I would say the major trends are running Bush’s way. We’ll find out in two weeks, won’t we?

  9. More like two months if this race is as tight as the last one.

  10. “you will see that polls other than Rasmussen and Zogby give Bush a substantial lead”

    …in the “likely” voter categories. Kerry is tied or ahead in registered voters. In 2000, the registered number turned out to be more accurate, and there is reason to believe the methods used for standardizing to the “likely” number have gotten even less reliable since then.

    BTW, it is an unwise poll watcher who dismisses Zogby so casually.

    “Kerry is pulling out of a number of Gore or swing states altogether, effectively conceding them to Bush and writing off tens of millions of dollars of advertising.” Just as Bush is pulling out of New Hampshire and other swing states. There is certainly a tightening of the contest going on, but it is a two-sided affair.

    Interesting story in the Boston Globe yesterday about AZ. Kerry’s numbers have risen since the third debate, without any TV advertising. The news, not the campaign ads, are pushing Bush down in the state. That can’t be good news.

  11. Amen, trainwreck…

    I’ve been hearing through more than one info outlet that lawyers on both sides are already lining up lining up and NPR this morning predicted no less than 6 Floridas for the 2004 election.

    I’ve heard Colorado, California and Arizona mentioned as well as my own Sunshine State.

    Ears to the ground suggest a number of “disenfranchised voter” groups ready to pounce no matter who wins.

    It’s gonna be one wild-asss ride…

  12. Joe might be right about the registered voter poll being more important than the likely voter.

    As I explained in an earlier thread, the democrats have dudes out giving rides to registered voters to the voting booth.

    Rebublicans usually have an edge in that they actually get around to voting on election day. But with this aggressive get out the vote techniques I think that the edge will go to democrats.

  13. I think Shaw’s article is presumptuous navel-gazing.

  14. If anybody wants to watch the Sinclair Group’s stock tank, go here: http://messages.yahoo.com/?action=q&board=SBGI

    Their dumbass decision to try to screw Kerry is biting them right where it hurts – in the pocketbook.

  15. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t put too much faith in the polls myself, at least not to the point of believing micro-fluctations or differences (under, say 6%) have any validity.

    I think den Beste captured it when he said the Presidential polling data remind him of noisy, poor quality data from his engineering experience.

    I pay more attention to what the campaigns are doing. They shell out enormous amounts of money on voter research, and their confidential internal numbers are generally of better quality than the cheap stuff peddled to the public. If Kerry is concentrating pulling out of states where he campaigned earlier, that tells you something. If Bush is spending his time in states that went Gore last time, that tells you something, too.

    The fact that this contest is close at all after the gargantuan sums of 527 money spend demonizing Bush, and the ferocious all-out assault on Bush (and complementary soft-peddling of John KerryI by the establishment media, should tell you something as well.

    And we haven’t even seen the last round of dirty tricks yet!

  16. kwais,

    Four years of Bush has been the greatest Democratic GOTV event ever. There are narcissistic 19 year olds who aren’t even Democrats, who don’t give a shit about politics, who are going to vote in large numbers because they don’t want Bush shipping them off to some dusty hell hole.

    Of course, this is the type of support that leads to a one term presidency.

  17. I don’t really care if Sinclair stocks tank. As long as they get their message out and Kerry tanks. I am dubios that would happen, but I can only hope.

  18. Joe,
    are you talking about the 19 year olds who are afraid of the draft?

    If so I would have to agree with you. I have met some of them. The tactic of scaring people into thinking that Bush would instate the draft is working.

    If you are talking about the ones who would actually go to the war, you are wrong. They are voting 4 to 1 for Bush.

  19. The military being overwhelmingly Republican is not a new development (though 4:1 is a little lower than usual, isn’t it?) The statistic you cite says nothing about trends in the electorate.

    Significant numbers of young first time voters showing up to vote against a candidate because they fear a draft, if it comes to pass, would be a significant break from recent elections.

  20. the news media have done a pretty poor job of campaign coverage…it suggests to me that the media hadn’t fulfilled their responsibility to tell voters what… he stands for, what he would do, who he is

    You could apply this same criticism to, say, Bednarik. But I doubt we’d get some half-hearted apology from the media critic for that same failure.

  21. madpad-

    Colorado is a particularly interesting case. There’s a ballot measure that, if passed, would apportion the state’s electoral votes proportionally amongst candidates rather than giving all of them to the plurality winner. Now, whatever one might think of the merits or demerits of that proposal, it’s virtually guaranteed to face a lawsuit if it passes. Here’s why:

    1) The ballot measure stipulates that the measure would take effect for the 2004 election. Now, I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know whether a change on the day of the election technically counts as retroactive and whether there are statutes explicitly prohibiting that, but it’s at least murky enough to guarantee a lawsuit by one side or the other if the measure passes.

    2) In regard to choosing electors, the Constitution says “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors…” This would be a ballot measure, not an act of the legislature. Now, to some this might seem incredibly nitpicky while to others it might seem of crucially importance. Whatever you think of it, there are some people out there who will try to file suit based on it. (In the stories I read about this measure, they explicitly picked Colorado because the state constitution has some language in it about the people exercising legislative power via ballot measures or whatever. Whatever the merits of that argument, it’s enough of a gray area to guarantee a court challenge.)

    If the Colorado measure passes, I hope that the electoral college count is close enough that the measure makes no difference. CO has 9 votes, so passage of this measure would mean a 5-4 split one way or the other. As long as the electoral college margin is larger than 4 votes the lawsuits will be a mere formality, and nobody will pay much attention.

    Anyway, here’s hoping for an unambiguous election result.

    Oh, and as to the draft: If a draft were to be reinstated, the solution is obvious. Young men could simply go to Massachussettes, get married to a fellow draft resistor in a civil ceremony, and show the marriage certificate to the Army. Once they’re exempted from service they can get divorced cheaply and easily, as long as they had a prenup dictating who gets to keep the Playstation 😉

  22. Joe,
    Yep your right the military is for as long as I have been in it overwhelmingly republican. I don’t know what figures have been in the past, so I don’t know of 4 to 1 is lower than usual or not.

    However that other 19 year olds would vote for Kerry because they are afraid of the draft is kind of sad. On account of the fact that Bush is not going to have a draft. And the candidate most likely to have a draft would be Kerry who is more likely to believe that we belong to the state. Hence he believes that if you are succesful you should pay more taxes because you can.

    If I were to guess I would say that the number of Kerry voters that are voting for Kerry becuse they feel he would do something he cannot, or are voting against Bush because they think Bush is something that Bush isn’t, is a lot higher than Bush voters who are mistaken in their beliefs.

    It appears that Kerry stradling issues or not being clear about where he stands is working. I think that if Kerry was clear about where he stands and what he is really planning to do, Bush would get a landslide victory.

  23. I agree. Until I read a puff-piece on Kerry last week – that was months old – I didn?t know, for instance , that Kerry was a starter on the Yale soccer team and that he had a hat trick in the big game that allowed Yale to beat Harvard.
    What kind of campaign committee allows me to get to this point without knowing a fact like that?
    I know about the windsurfing in a silly outfit. I know about the expensive mountain bike, colliding with a Secret Service agent while snowboarding. I have seen the awkward football-throwing pictures and heard of the baseball hitting the ground on opening day. I know that soccer is kind of, ugh.., European and maybe not the same as scoring three touchdowns in the big game in football, but still. Although maybe that is because his position was “right wing” (I presume a soccer position description of the time).
    I also did not know that Kerry was a pilot and did aerobatics during his time at Yale and in the Navy. That his father was a test pilot in WWII. Or that he went sailing with the legendary JFK. What kind of campaign organization manages to leave a political junkie like me uninformed about things like that?
    Read the puff-piece and see if you don?t agree that someone has dropped the ball here. By the way, it doesn?t bother me to say something nice about a candidate (that I have not supported) just prior to the election. Our voting decisions should be based on all the facts. If he wins, he wins and I will support him to the best of my ability, just like any good American ought to. I would hope that all Americans feel that way.
    [humor alert] Wait! This just in. Perhaps there is a reason we have not heard any of this from the Kerry campaign. A Republican-backed group calling itself the Naragansett Bay Sailing/Aerobatic Soccer Players For Truth has just debunked the Boston Globe puff-piece. Their charges are unsubstantiated, however.

  24. thoreau,

    Thanx for the info…I had heard about the Colorado angle but I did NOT realize some of the finer points you related.

    Like I said…wild ass ride. I can hear it now… “Score 2 for the Supreme Court.”

  25. Funny, before the debates I had the impression he’s a jackass.

    Now I have the impression he’s a supreme jackass. Goddamn liberal media, failed me again.

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