Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

September 8, 2010

SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT GALLUP FREAK-OUT.... Last week, Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll showed Republicans leading Democrats by 10, 51% to 41%. It was billed as the GOP's biggest Gallup lead in the history of humanity, and the results generated massive media attention, including a stand-alone Washington Post piece on page A2. It was iron-clad evidence, we were told, of impending Democratic doom.

I strongly recommended caution -- Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll has been erratic and unreliable. Both parties had built up big leads in recent months, only to see them quickly disappear, for no apparent reason. I made the case that inconsistent polls with bizarre swings are necessarily suspect, but the media had its narrative -- the GOP tsunami is coming -- and couldn't be bothered to consider whether the Gallup poll had merit.

2ooa6qptxeszgwxfros9lg.gif

Wouldn't you know it, a week later, that massive, unprecedented, world-changing lead Republicans enjoyed is gone. The new Gallup numbers show the GOP losing five points and Dems gaining five points, leaving the parties tied at 46%. Is there any coherent rationale to explain a 10-point swing in Dems' favor over the last week? Of course not.

Just to be perfectly clear, I don't consider this evidence of a surge in Democratic support, and Dems who rejoice at this poll are making the same mistake Republicans and reporters made last week. The point is Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll just isn't telling us anything useful, no matter which party likes the results in any given week.

What's more annoying, though, is the media double-standard. After the vast news coverage last week's Gallup numbers received, it's striking to see how little outlets care this week. I'm still looking for the headline that reads "Resurgent Dems close gap against GOP" in a major daily, but can't seem to find it.

Indeed, take Chris Cillizza, for example. Last week, the Gallup generic ballot was the lead story in his "Morning Fix" column, and he devoted more than 500 words to the results. Today, Cillizza's "Morning Fix" column doesn't mention the new Gallup results at all.

When the media culture decides poll results that Republicans like are more newsworthy than results Democrats like, there's a problem.

Update: Cillizza, to his credit, published an item about the Gallup poll a few hours after his column.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

For some reason, Republicans have been treated by the media as the underdogs for years.
Why?
I don't know. Maybe it's because everyone knows that they're dog's, so they just assume that they're 'under.'
Under corporate influence.
Under intellegent.
Under compassionate.
Under the thumb of the rich.
There, see: UNDERdog's!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 8, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

the gop will win...story was the easiest one to write..

meanwhile..

November generic ballot - registered voters:

DEM 46%...GOP 46% - Gallup 9/7/10


November generic ballot - registered voters:

DEM 43%....GOP 43% - NBC News/Wall St. Journal 9/7/10


Who do you blame for the current economy?

60% say Bush - ABC News/Wash. Post 9/5/10


GOP has offered a clear direction for the country:

Yes 45%....No 48% - ABC News/Wash. Post 9/5/10


Who do you trust to handle the biggest problems?

DEM 40%....GOP 38% - ABC News/Wash. Post 9/5/10

Posted by: mr. irony on September 8, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

For the media, the only good news about President Obama and the Democrats is BAD NEWS. The rule is that no matter what the issue is, you must, at all costs, find a negative angle. You know, things like a trip to Spain or a new oval office rug.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on September 8, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

What's more annoying, though, is the media double-standard. After the vast news coverage last week's Gallup numbers received, it's striking to see how little outlets care this week. I'm still looking for the headline that reads "Resurgent Dems close gap against GOP" in a major daily, but can't seem to find it.

Of course you can't. As you pointed out, the media has a narrative. Objective facts that don't conform to the narrative aren't newsworthy.

By the way, the media also have a narrative all set for November: Election results are a massive repudiation of unpopular president Obama and mandate for the GOP agenda. Never mind that the Democrats would historically be expected to lose seats in the midterms, the GOP hasn't spelled out any coherent agenda or that it took years of sub-50% approval for the so-called "liberal media" to figure out that George W. Bush wasn't a popular wartime president...

Posted by: Gregory on September 8, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

It's the non-overlap on those questions that always gets me. The 5-8% of people who don't trust the GOP to handle the biggest problems but are going to vote for them anyway.The 3-6% who blame Bush for the state of the economy but are still Republican voters.

Posted by: ajay on September 8, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Steve writes:"What's more annoying, though, is the media double-standard"

It is only annoying when you cling to the belief that we have an independent media in the United States.

As yourself, who OWNS the media? And what is their agenda?

Posted by: DAY on September 8, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Well, that's what happens when virtually every single major media entity is controlled by a major corporation whose owners tend to support the GOP.

Posted by: mfw13 on September 8, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

The midterm elections conventional wisdom has been turned on it's head. Midterm elections where it is expected that the party in power will lose seats is now a complete repudiation of the Obama administration. Not x numbers of local elections. And for this midterm election, the Democrats will have to match the turnout of the 2008 "presidential election" to keep their majorities. Imagine that.

The party out of power is always more enthusiastic about the midterms. But this year, the right wing has lost it's mind because there is a black man in the White House. The rules have changed and conventional wisdom bites the dust.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on September 8, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, Steve... Clearly, the media is doing this ONLY because Gallup has been all over the place. SURELY it's an outlier.

Posted by: pol on September 8, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

When the MSM ledes with Murdoch in Economic Partnership with North Korea, then I'll begin to believe we have news here in the good ol'USA!

It's not news if it has to be repeated more than twice in a "news" cycle.

What we are witnessing on the TV machine or in print is cheer-leading! Hurray for the Idiots! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 8, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

The first question on any poll should be :
What is your primary source for news?
The last question should be :
Do you vote?

Posted by: John R on September 8, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Do you guys ever miss an opportunity to miss the point? National polls aren't useful for predicting US Representative races.

Charlie Cook: "While the individual race-by-race approach to analyzing House seats works great in "normal" election years, it invariably underestimates what happens in wave years, and the evidence is indisputable that this is a wave year.

"By the end of this week, the Cook Political Report will be rating about eight Democratic open seats as either Lean or Likely Republican, about 45 in the Toss Up column and 30 more in the Lean Democratic column, bringing the total number of vulnerable Democratic seats to about 80. To be clear, Democrats are not going to lose 80 seats. In the 26 years of the Cook Political Report, no party has ever even come close to winning every single competitive House race. But it would be reasonable to assume that each of the Democrat-held seats in the Lean or Likely Republican column will be won by the GOP and that the overwhelming majority of Toss Up seats will go Republican. In addition, in this kind of a wave year, it's reasonable to assume that Democrats will lose some of the currently Lean Democratic seats, those races where Democrats are currently ahead but have far less than insurmountable leads."

In 1994, when Republicans pretty much ran the table to win the House, Democrats were not defending a bunch of marginal seats that they had won in wave years. But THIS year, Democrats are defending dozens of House seats in which Ds won in R districts.

Likewise, in the Senate, there is a strong tendency for close races to all break in the same direction. This year, that is increasingly unlikely to go OUR way.

I've challenged a bunch of you to face reality for months, so I'll do it one more time: the ONLY way for this year to be anything but a frigging catastrophe, is for something very, very dramatic to happen to change the looming results.

What is gonna be that dramatic? Well?

Cuz the alternative is very clear: progressives will have fallen faster and farther than any political movement in American history -- and it will be our fault.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 8, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Reversion to the mean, folks. Sometimes new highs are just an opportunity to reverse course.

Posted by: David on September 8, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

For the past year the "common wisdom" has been the Republicans seize control of the congress this fall and that creates the climate for a world shaking showdown in 2010 between President Obama and Sarah Palin. In service of that common wisdom the media herd has pushed a narrative that always finds the tea partiers are a giant force of nature, Americans in large numbers are buying the nonsense Republicans are selling and the stimulus package didn't work which means Obama has failed to help make things better. If they are successful the media herd will create its own reality in early November. If they fail they will have an almost equally compelling story about resurgent Democrats.

The other day I read three polls that the media claimed proved the Democrats are about to be washed into history. Of course, the internals of all three polls painted a different more complicated and interesting story. The pollsters had to work hard to define "likely voters" in such a way to support the earth shattering headlines, but nobody in the media seemed to notice.

Polls put out by news organizations at this stage in a campaign are notoriously driven by the sponsors need for proof that their narrative is correct. Remember pollsters are small business people trying hard to make a buck in a bad economy. They want to provide proof that their sponsoring news organizations are staffed by forward looking wise men and women instead of a herd of tv performers who aren't good enough to land a job on series tv and don't want to work hard enough to make it on a "reality tv" game show.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 8, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Forgive my ongoing paranoia, but I return again to a salient factoid: mainstream media are owned/controlled by very wealthy people with personal agendas and opinions shared with their ilk. For me this explains the constant drumbeat of anti-Democratic narratives. The myth of liberal media, based on ancient data showing a majority of reporters being liberal, has been purposely maintained to continually discredit anything that helps the poor or simply doesn't help the wealthy, who seem to be very prone to zero-sum thinking. I suspect that many newspeople swallow their ideals rather than lose their jobs. Race-fear is just another tool the wealthy use to pry one more group of the poor over to their side. The wealthy are a tiny majority, although a very powerful one in the world's biggest economy. They'll view any and all tactics as useful in what they perceive as a desperate struggle to preserve and/or enlarge their gains.

Posted by: Keeping Track on September 8, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

What's more annoying, though, is the media double-standard.

You're behind the times, Mr. Benen. This pattern has held for most of three decades. Since Reagan's day, Republican rule has been the norm for the Beltway establish, Democratic rule the exception that should be tending back to the norm. Columns by supposedly neutral pundits about Republicans tend to be advice on how they can hold or regain power. Columns about Dems about how they are doing something wrong and soon will lose to the Republicans. Democratic scandsls are relentlessly flogged, no matter how trivial. Republican scandals are glossed over or ignored.

. . . And this was all in place BEFORE Fox News and Matt Drudge took over the Beltway.

Posted by: Midland on September 8, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe as the election comes closer, people are getting more serious about their choices, and connecting their planned votes to their already established opinion that the GOP is less likely to move the country forward than the Democrats. And maybe, as the election comes even closer, the extremism of the GOP will become more clear as will the reason why Obama and the Dems have not been as effective as desired is GOP obstructionism. Maybe if we stop predicting Dem defeat as a way of validating our personal strategies for the last 2 years, the Dems will not be defeated. Given the facts, which are available everywhere, there is no reason why the Dems should not increase their majorities.
Labor Day has come and gone; the rules are different now. Time to be positive, hopeful and energetic.

Posted by: tom in ma on September 8, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Um, at the same time this poll was taken, we saw the following:

CNN: Republicans +7
ABC: Republicans +13
Rasmussen: Republicans +12

ONLY on Gallup do we see democrats surging yet again for no reason whatsoever - as a matter of fact, the underlying positives for Republicans remain the same, yet the top line number collapses a 10 point lead overnight.

Suffice it to say, Dems are going to get it handed to them in November. Republicans are pissed that Obama is a Socialist, Independents are pissed that Obama lied about being a moderate (and that he is incompetent), the squishy left (minorities/youth) don't vote in midterms and the far left is discouraged that THE ONE hasn't turned us into Mother Russia yet.

Take my word for it - this will be a blowout.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I have honestly never understood the revence held for Gallup as "the pollster of record". In 2008, out of 20 pollsters, Gallup placed a pathetic 17th while that crazy right-wing hack pollster, Rasmussen, placed a disappointing 1st place.

What? Rasmussen was #1 in 2008? Yes. Of course the left doesn't want to believe that because to the left, results don't matter, only intentions.

Has anyone else noticed that everything the left touches goes broke?

ABC/CBS/MSNBC/NYTimes/WAPO/AirAmerica/Time/Newsweek, etc...

All either broke or going broke.

Meanwhile, Conservative Media:

FoxNews, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc...

are all experiencing record profits and explosive growth.

The lesson? If you wanna go broke - go left. BTW, Karl Marx died a pauper.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

What bothers me is the lack of nuance applied by the media about this election.

Look, we're going to lose seats in 2010. Seats we won in 2006 and 2008 that we SHOULDN'T HAVE WON. Those seats will go back to the Republicans; Perriello in VA is a good example.

How will the media "play" these seat losses? Repudiation of Obama? Or, water seeking its own level?

There's no way we're not going to lose seats, no way. But, let's look at the context these loses occur in. We'd better, because the media sure won't.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on September 8, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "When the media culture decides poll results that Republicans like are more newsworthy than results Democrats like, there's a problem."

Ya think?

Yeah, there's a "problem" all right.

The "problem" is that "the media culture" consists of half a dozen giant corporations that own virtually all of the mass media from which most Americans get most of their information, and those corporations use their near-totalitarian control over information to propagandize the American people in furtherance of the corporate agenda.

Just as the corporations use the Republican Party to advance their agenda.

Steve, have you ever considered addressing this "problem" directly, rather than dancing around it with mock cluelessness?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 8, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Mitchell wrote: "Has anyone else noticed that everything the left touches goes broke? ABC/CBS/MSNBC/NYTimes/WAPO/AirAmerica/Time/Newsweek, etc..."

Every media organization that you listed there is owned, controlled and programmed by a giant for-profit corporation, each and every one of which has benefited enormously from right-wing Republican policies.

If you think those corporations represent "the left" then you are exactly the sort of weak-minded, ignorant, gullible dupe that the phony "conservative" media -- which is also owned and controlled by a handful of giant corporations -- love to bamboozle with BS.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 8, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote: "Every media organization that you listed there is owned, controlled and programmed by a giant for-profit corporation, each and every one of which has benefited enormously from right-wing Republican policies.

If you think those corporations represent "the left" then you are exactly the sort of weak-minded, ignorant, gullible dupe that the phony "conservative" media -- which is also owned and controlled by a handful of giant corporations -- love to bamboozle with BS."

Spoken like a true Marxist. For that, I will hereby make you sole heir to the Karl Marx fortune. You can now afford a loaf of bread.

So you say that huge corporations benefit from Republican Policies? You mean the corporations that build our computers, cell phones, cars, homes, office, highways, the clothing on your back - those huge corporations? The huge corporations that employ millions of Americans so they can feed their children? Those?

And Republican Policies have supported them? I am assuming therefore that Democrat Polices oppose them? Lol, no wonder unemployment is 10% under Obama.

** I have a suggestion that can wipe out poverty in America today. Every dollar earned by Democrats above the national income average is paid in taxes. Every dollar. Think of the hungry that could be fed, the naked clothed and the sick healed? As a matter of fact, is we do that Republicans won't have to pay taxes at all. How does that sound my Marxist friend?

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

The thing I find so amusing about those on the left is that they rail against Corporate America, and yet have no issue whatsoever with using the things Corporate America makes on a daily basis. They would kneecap the very foundation of our way of life - and replace it with what exactly? Pottery?

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Mitchell - reread your above words - substitute right for "left", "government" for CA, and expecting services government provides on a daily basis for "using the things CA makes on a daily basis" - and you may find your dogma is playing on the freeway (provided for by federal funds) and my karma just ran it over! -Kevo

p.s. Mr Mitchell - I am no lefty, but reason does matter to me!

Posted by: kevo on September 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

This will be all about individual races. This and this are of interest.

Posted by: Jess on September 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Today, Cillizza's "Morning Fix" column doesn't mention the new Gallup results at all.

Steve, Chris Cillizza is a worthless hack and an embarrassment to the profession of journalism.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on September 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Mitchell wrote: "So you say that huge corporations benefit from Republican Policies? You mean the corporations that build our computers, cell phones, cars, homes, office, highways, the clothing on your back - those huge corporations?"

Those are the corporations that YOU call "leftist", Bill -- you know, the same "leftist" corporations that own the "liberal" media. And all those big corporations put out all that "liberal" propaganda on their networks because they want to destroy capitalism.

Right.

Bill Mitchell wrote: "Spoken like a true Marxist."

Tell you what, Bill -- if and when you progress beyond the level of regurgitating the inane bumper-sticker bromides about one-dimensional cartoon comic-book stereotypes that are spoon-fed to you by the phony "conservative" media, come back here and express some actual thoughts of your own.

Because your "Rush Limbaugh For Dummies" shtick isn't impressing anybody but yourself.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

personally, i'm thankful for all the clothes that the corporations built on my back.

Posted by: skippy on September 8, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bill 'dumbbell' Mitchell also forgots that after 8 years of Bush and REPIGLICAN/ CORPORATE economics, including his vaunted tax cuts for the rich that were supposed to produce millions and millions of jobs, after eight years that nearly destroyed our entire country and the world economy, after eight years the total amount of jobs that Bush et-al produced, wait for it dumbell, ONE MILLION JOBS. compare this to 8 years of clinton and taxing the rich .. 23 million jobs. but of course dumbless don't like these kinds of reality checks.

Posted by: stormskies on September 8, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"You mean the corporations that build our computers, cell phones, cars, homes, office, highways, the clothing on your back - those huge corporations?"

Right, Bill. The corporations built all that stuff. I got news for you: corporations have people called employees that do all that work you just listed. Right now, due to massive lobbying paid for by corporate executives, these employees have been making less and less every year since Reagan took office.

But we should all kneel before the alter of corporate greatness, because y'know, its the executives that make all this shit happen.

BTW, there are good corporations that treat their employees fairly. Unfortunately, they typically aren't very large and don't wield the kind of influence that the multi-nationals do.

The truth is, we need both corporations and government, but there needs to be an equitable balance that's been missing for quite a long time.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think I will go back to my day job now which is being used as shitpaper for my Corporate Gods assholes.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Which, by the way, is why they call me 'shit for brains' .......

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on September 8, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

[Shouting at us to stop deleting your posts isn't going to make that happen. You have been banned, and insist on coming back anyway, so we delete your posts as soon as we see them. You contribute nothing, you just fling poo. Go away and stay gone, or continue to have your comments removed.]

Posted by: getaclue on September 8, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I had no idea this site censors commentators, particularly when they make good sense.

Posted by: ghostdragon on September 8, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

That Republicans were going to smear the Dems in the coming election have been the story du jour since the last election, though the media had the grace to wait 3 or 4 months to begin to run it every day. Republicans have said truth is something you have repeated enough times that everyone believes it. This is one of those manufactured truths, which is not to say it is not self-fulfilling. That's the point of it.

Posted by: richard on September 10, 2010 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

"Suffice it to say, Dems are going to get it handed to them in November. Republicans are pissed that Obama is a Socialist, Independents are pissed that Obama lied about being a moderate (and that he is incompetent), the squishy left (minorities/youth) don't vote in midterms and the far left is discouraged that THE ONE hasn't turned us into Mother Russia yet."

This from one of the nutball right-wingers commenting above. In an era of collossal stupidity, This is one of the most cleanly moronic statements I have seen.

1) The talking point called "Obama is a socialist", endlessly repeated by people who don't know what a socialist actually is, doesn't make him one.
2)Obama never said he was a moderate, he said he was going to bring "much needed Change".
3) The "far left" (I think that's me) are pissed off because he ran as a Progressive, governed as a Moderate, and caved in to every right-wing obstruction in a mis-guided attempt at singing Kumbaya with a bunch of thugs.

The perpretrator of the kool-aid vision quoted above should spare us, please. We can get it all from Fox "News."

Posted by: richard on September 10, 2010 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly