Politico's Alex Burns: Voters Are 'Forrest Gump-like', Lack 'Most Basic Grasp of the Details'

Alex Burns of Politico has developed a bad case of Peter Jennings Syndrome, right down to accusing the voters of a "tantrum-like response" directed at Obama on gas prices. So far, he writes, the campaign "has been more like a game of Marco Polo, as a hapless gang of Republican candidates and a damaged, frantic incumbent try to connect with a historically fickle and frustrated electorate."

The voters are a gaggle of Gumps: "And 'fickle' is a nice way of describing the voters of 2012, who appear to be wandering, confused and Forrest Gump-like through the experience of a presidential campaign. It isn’t just unclear which party’s vision they’d rather embrace; it’s entirely questionable whether the great mass of voters has even the most basic grasp of the details – or for that matter, the most elementary factual components – of the national political debate."

When last we wrote about Burns -- just three years and change out of Harvard, but with youthful arrogance in spades -- he was "correcting" Newt Gingrich about Obama's abortion advocacy in the state legislature. (It turned out it was Burns who mangled media coverage of Obama's record.) Burns is throwing a premature tantrum at the mere notion that Barack Obama is in political trouble. The voters are having a tantrum well before the actual election, and Arrogant Alex won't stand for it:

"The present furor over gas prices is a case in point: Obama’s job approval dropped 9 points over the last month, according to a CBS/New York Times poll, as the cost of fuel has risen abruptly. The survey found that 54 percent of Americans believe that the president can do a lot to combat high gas prices.

That’s not really true, but it’s a dynamic that’s shown up in other polls too: 26 percent of respondents told an ABC News/Washington Post poll that they approve of Obama’s handling of gas prices, versus 65 percent who disapprove.

For voters to disapprove of Obama’s energy and economic policies may be completely rational. But to reassess a president’s performance in the context of a short-term increase in gas prices is more of a tantrum-like response to a new feeling of discomfort over which the president has relatively little control.

Arrogant Alex is too young to realize this is exactly what liberals said in the Carter years. Pick up a book and learn about recent American history, young man. The star of this voter-dissing story was pollster Tom Jensen, a Democrat:

The first lesson you learn as a pollster is that people are stupid,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm. “I tell a client trying to make sense of numbers on a poll that are inherently contradictory that at least once a week.”

Jensen, a Democrat, pointed to surveys showing that voters embraced individual elements of the Affordable Care Act, while rejecting the overall law, as an example of the political schizophrenia or simple ignorance that pollsters and politicians must contend with.

“We’re seeing that kind of thing more and more. I think it’s a function of increased political polarization and voters just digging in their heels and refusing to consider the opposing facts once they’ve formed an opinion about something,” said Jensen, who has generated eye-catching data showing many GOP primary voters still question the president’s religion and nationality.

“I also think voters are showing a tendency to turn issues that should be factual or non-factual into opinions. If you show a Tennessee birther Obama’s birth certificate, they’re just going to say ‘well in my opinion he’s not a real American.’ It’s not about the birth certificate; it’s about expressing hatred for Obama in any form they can.”

This is the same pollster that NBC's Chuck Todd strongly suggested was ginning up poll numbers "designed to get a higher percentage in the answer than maybe what's actually true" to create a buzz among liberals about the stupidity of conservative Obama-hating voters. Jensen and Alex Burns are a perfect and perfectly arrogant match.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis