Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MISCELLANEOUS CHARTS....The Project for Excellence in Journalism released a report a couple of days ago showing that so far during the 2008 campaign season, Democrats have gotten more favorable coverage than Republicans. Now, maybe you believe this and maybe you don't, but what caught my eye was the reason Democrats got such favorable coverage. Two words: Barack Obama. The chart on the right shows the results for each of the six leading candidates, and Obama's coverage is almost stratospherically laudatory. So I grabbed the raw data and removed Obama from the analysis entirely to see what would happen. Answer: the positive vs. negative coverage was virtually identical for Democrats and Republicans.

Bottom line: the press isn't in love with Democrats, it's in love with Barack Obama.

Tonight's second chart comes from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, which released a report Wednesday telling us that the key to success for the Democratic Party was unmarried women. Page after page presents evidence that they vote more heavily for Democrats than practically any other group and could produce huge victory margins in the future if we just addressed their issues better and got them out to vote.

Now, I'm already predisposed to believe this because my sister belongs to this demographic and she's always complaining about how she's completely ignored during campaign season. And she's right. There are always a million and one proposals for helping "families," but nothing aimed at unmarried women.

So fine. Except for one thing. Take a look at the chart on the right, which is practically the only place in the entire report where you can see this. It's true that 66% of unmarried women vote for Democrats, but by extrapolation a little more than 62% of unmarried men also vote for Democrats. That's not really much of a difference. So why not just focus on the unmarried demographic as a whole, which is also heavily biased in favor of Dems but is also twice as big?

Kevin Drum 1:24 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Interesting, because Glenn Reynolds of course, was pimping the report and it's "obvious" results.

Posted by: jerry on November 3, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

So what issues would unite the unmarried demographic? The unfairness of the current tax code?

Posted by: PTate in MN on November 3, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

That, and child care, probably.

Posted by: PaulB on November 3, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Is it really twice as big? This is the assumption which underlies the calculus: if half votes at 66% and the whole votes at 64%, then the other half votes at 62%.

But is it split half and half? How many of the unmarried women are widows, for instance? Elderly women outlive their male cohort.

Posted by: cedichou on November 3, 2007 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

'Way Down East' is one of D.W. Griffith's best movies.

Posted by: Brojo on November 3, 2007 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

If there are more unmarried women than white evangelicals, how come we don't have that much power?

*sigh*

Posted by: Crissa on November 3, 2007 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

So let's nominate Obama. It's our turn to have a teflon candidate.

Posted by: KathyF on November 3, 2007 at 5:45 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus fucking Christ. This is total bullshit. McCain, Giuliani, and Romney are complete tools. An objective media would give them 90% negative coverage, but they don't get anywhere near that, so the survey is obviously biased.

If the coverage was fair the Dems should have a 80-20 advantage or better instead of a 60-40 ratio. What exactly is your point?

Also what is the percentage of unmarrieds that actually vote? My anecdotal information is they don't vote as much as married people.

Posted by: mdana on November 3, 2007 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I live in VA. I have lived in CA, KS, and VA. HRC has as good a chance of carrying the state as any Dem. Bill Clinton almost won in 1996. NOVA where the plurality of the voters live will support her stronger than they did Webb. Tidewater should be about the same, and the rural areas will probably not be as strong as they were for Webb. However, VA is turning purple and with Warner running it should help the Dem nominee.

Posted by: mdana on November 3, 2007 at 6:26 AM | PERMALINK

O.k., it's been a long, sleepless night, so this is probably a stupid question, but...

Why think that it will be easier to make gains in the groups that are already primarily voting Democratic? If group A votes 60% Dems and group B 40%, that doesn't mean that it will be easier to, say, move A up to 65% than it will be to move B up to 45%.

Posted by: Winston Smith on November 3, 2007 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I wonder if your numbers are just another way to say that gays and lesbians, who are officially counted as unmarried, vote Democratic in overwhelming numbers.

Posted by: DBL on November 3, 2007 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

If one reads the report more deeply, it turns out that they include Talk Radio. That's why Republicans did as well as Dems, except for Obama.

However, the report also looks separately at Network News and newspapers. These two media gave the Dems considerably more favorable coverage -- more than just favoring Obama.

Those who haven't noticed this disparity should look within themselves to see why not.

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 3, 2007 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Excellence in Journalism". Where, when, how???

Posted by: Whitehouse Criminals on November 3, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Another way in which the Dems are favored is that the mainstream media tend to agree with the Dems on key issues, such as abortion, taxes and Iraq. A lot of media reports contain default assumptions that support the Dems' position and oppose the Reps' position.

E.g., the TimesonLine (of London) blasted the US media for under-reporting the progress now being made in Iraq:

Serious success in Iraq is not being recognised as it should be

Is no news good news or bad news? In Iraq, it seems good news is deemed no news. There has been striking success in the past few months in the attempt to improve security, defeat al-Qaeda sympathisers and create the political conditions in which a settlement between the Shia and the Sunni communities can be reached. This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months. While summarised by the single word “surge” his efforts have not just been about putting more troops on the ground but also employing them in a more sophisticated manner. This drive has effectively broken whatever alliances might have been struck in the past by terrorist factions and aggrieved Sunnis. Cities such as Fallujah, once notorious centres of slaughter, have been transformed in a remarkable time.

Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging.

By minimizing the good news, the media makes the Dem anti-war position look more reasonable and Rep pro-war side look less reasonable.

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 3, 2007 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

I think cedichou and DBL above are on to something. This may well be a very diverse group: younger people, gays & lesbians, widows and widowers... does it include divorced people even?

Posted by: larry birnbaum on November 3, 2007 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

How is it that with all of the information available to anyone in a campaign, [polls like this, blogs like this], the ability to pander is so often ignored?
I want to be talked-down-to right now. Where's my coffee?

Posted by: bobbywally on November 3, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Is it really twice as big?
Yes, roughly -- the table in the post shows unmarried women as 26% and total unmarried as 47%.

Why think that it will be easier to make gains in the groups that are already primarily voting Democratic?
The idea was to increase not the preference, but the vote turnout in these groups.

Posted by: JS on November 3, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Times of London, as the troller ex-liberal (surely a lie if there ever were one) knows, is a Murdoch mouthpiece. Thus, whatever "news" it carries should be given the same weight as the droolings of Faux News or the blather that gathers under the masthead of the Wall Street Journal. It was Mary McCarthy who summarized them best (although she was speaking of Lillian Hellmann):
"Every single word is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."

Posted by: jprichva on November 3, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Now if only the democrats can attract the divorcees, widows, widowers and the unhappily married, they will have a lock on the Presidency for the next millenium.

Posted by: gregor on November 3, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

The PEJ study is important. The msm's pushing of the superficial Obama and its inability to seriously examine the candidates fairly is a disaster for the Democratic party and for the country as a whole. Obama is getting the same free pass that the superficial George W got from the msm in 1999, and although he won't beat Hillary he certainly functions as a spoiler preventing candidates who have worked their whole lives for this country a voice and a chance to be heard.

Posted by: Chrissy on November 3, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

PTate: So what issues would unite the unmarried demographic? The unfairness of the current tax code?

PaulB: That, and child care, probably.

I doubt either of these, especially the second, is a dealbreaker for very many. If "unmarried" is an amalgam of never-married (usually young) straights, gays and lesbians, widows and widowers (that one would be heavily women), and the divorced, these groups have some different hot buttons. Never-married, young straights and gays/lesbians are likely to be heavily motivated by social issues, for example, and both these groups traditionally vote Dem, while that's not as true for widows as a group.

Seems like economic security and shrinking opportunity is the most likely uniting issue across these demographics.

Posted by: shortstop on November 3, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the even more obvious bias revealed in the study is the overwhelming tilt in the direction of Stupid:

The press’ focus on fundraising, tactics and polling is even more evident if one looks at how stories were framed rather than the topic of the story. Just 12% of stories examined were presented in a way that explained how citizens might be affected by the election, while nearly nine-out-of-ten stories (86%) focused on matters that largely impacted only the parties and the candidates.

And of course the other question that goes gapingly unanswered in the report, at least as far as I could find, was "What constitutes 'positive' versus 'negative' coverage?" I've seen Adnags claim to have been doing "positive" coverage on Dems that looked to me like pure hatchetwork. Who decides and by what criteria? The "Stupid" bias seems to be based on much less subjective grounds.

Posted by: DrBB on November 3, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

The press is complicit.

Why does the press love Obama? Because he cannot possibly win a general election.

Why does the press give us the inevitability of HRC? Because she cannot possibly win a general election.

The press and the trolls want you to look at these kinds of studies as if they actually mean something. The reality is that we are being played again, but the game is a level deeper. Why are we always winning the last election as instead of the next election?

Posted by: CK Dexter Haven on November 3, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

As an older, unmarried single male, I can name several things that would appeal to me.

1. Limit, if not outrightly eliminating, the mortgage tax deduction. Unfair to largely urban apartment dwellers, and it continues to pump up the myth of home equity.
2. But health care, above all, when you live alone, is a big issue. Huge issue.
3. In our "creative destruction" economy, better unemployment insurance is also important to me as an older single.
4. Related to that, better, and less expensive, job retraining.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 3, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

They're in love with Obama's FUNDRAISING NUMBERS. That's what the positive numbers are about. Which is different than saying the press loves Obama.

Just an FYI.

Posted by: Brent Hartinger on November 3, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the media nicer to Obama than to Hillary? IMHO, it's because:

1. The media is served by a closer race
2. Hillary is old news; Obama is new news
3. It's not PC to criticize a black person (That is, it's not PC to criticize a black Democrat.)

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 3, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

"It's true that 66% of unmarried women vote for Democrats, but by extrapolation a little more than 62% of unmarried men also vote for Democrats. That's not really much of a difference. So why not just focus on the unmarried demographic as a whole, which is also heavily biased in favor of Dems but is also twice as big?"

Because for democrats "men" are a group with negative connotations.

Posted by: Adam on November 3, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

And Adam comes in to display just about every negative Republican trait/warped thought process in a single tight sentence! It's a masterpiece of succinct idiocy.

Posted by: shortstop on November 3, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

CK Dexter Haven is right. Obama isn't hyped by the press because of fundraising. He's getting funds because the MSM is hyping him just like they hype Paris Hilton or Britney. The MSM like the superficial people they hype is allergic to substance.

Posted by: Chrissy on November 3, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"If there are more unmarried women than white evangelicals, how come we don't have that much power?"

Because unmarried women don't vote in lockstep and in the numbers that evangelical voters USED to vote.

We'll see what happens in 2008.

I'd like to see a children/no children breakdown myself, as my personal experience is that people with children were much more freaked out by 9/11 than people without children. Something, perhaps, to do with the "protect the child at any cost" thing that happens overnight (hormonal?) when people have kids.

IF this turned out to be a truely distinguishing characteristic, perhaps the SCHIP brou-ha-ha really could turn the '08 elections.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 3, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't see anyone comment on the probability that the category "single women" includes a lot of single mothers; whether through divorce or just not getting married. If nothing else, the Democrats might want to plan for ways to get these people to the polls. From the ones I know of, many, because of the extra cost, simply cannot afford to leave their child(ren) at the babysitter's for the time it would take to vote.

Posted by: Doug on November 3, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, there are more unmarried women than unmarried men, so the total unmarried group is not quite twice as large and slightly less than 62% of unmarried men vote for Democrats. Your basic point is still a good one, though.

Posted by: ERC on November 3, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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