On Monday's Special Report with Brit Hume -- broadcast from FNC's (pretty dark) Manhattan headquarters instead of Washington, DC -- Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke and Bill Kristol made some last-minute predictions on what will occur in Tuesday's election. All three agreed that Democrats, who need to capture 15 more seats to re-gain a majority in the House, will succeed. Barnes pegged the Democratic pick-up at 20 to 25 seats, Kondracke at 25 to 30 seats and Kristol at 35 to 40 seats.
In the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of six seats to take control (counting expected independent victors Sanders of Vermont and Lieberman of Connecticut as organizing with Democrats), only Barnes was confident Republicans will hold the upper body -- but he didn't give a number. Kristol and Kondracke hedged their bets as both forecast a 50-50 split, which Vice President Cheney could break in favor of Republicans, or a 51 to 49 Democratic majority.
...memories of 1980s media bias when it comes to U.S. coverage of Nicaragua.
Fans [of Daniel Ortega] waved a sea of Sandista [sic] flags -- some in the traditional red-and-black stripes of Ortega's 1979 revolution that toppled the corrupt Somoza dynasty...
Somoza was toppled by a broad coalition the goals of which were subsequently hijacked by the Marxist-Leninist Ortega brothers.
During his first presidency, Ortega became a symbol of U.S. fears that a communist wildfire could sweep the Americas in the 1980s.
Ortega is more than a symbol. He's a real guy, and USSR and Cuba-funded civil wars were not a "fear" in the 1980s, but a reality. The civil war in El Salvador, for instance, really happened.
As the seventh leftist leader to win office in recent years in a Latin America increasingly at odd [sic] with U.S. dictates, Ortega's victory represents both a symbolic and a strategic blow to President George W. Bush.
Many political analysts called it a self-inflicted wound, saying United States made the Cold War dinosaur who will lead this desperately poor, banana-exporting, New York-sized nation of 5.5 million into a far more important figure that he is.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty chose the day before the election to morph into a complete Daily-Kos/left wing clone. He slammed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "an obnoxious jerk and a war criminal." The comments, made in reference to an editorial in the ‘Military Times’ newspapers, came during the 4pm hour of Monday’s "Situation Room." A transcript of the November 6 segment, which began at 4:11pm with Cafferty reading from the editorial, is below:
Jack Cafferty: "‘The time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard, bruising truth. Donald Rumsfeld must go.’ That is a quote from an editorial in this week’s ‘Military Times’ newspapers. The independent publications owned by Gannett, include ‘The Army Times,’ ‘The Navy Times,’ ‘Air Force Times,’ and ‘Marine Corps Times.’ The piece goes on to say, quote, ‘Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the Secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.’ They didn’t even mention that he’s also an obnoxious jerk and a war criminal.
In an election year gift to Democrats, Sunday’s "60 Minutes" pointed out GOP failings in Congress on the eve of a crucial midterm election, hitting the Republican Congress over failure to control spending and in particular, earmarks. "60 Minutes" has a history of running stories like these on the show preceding an important election. In 2002, correspondent Morley Safer provided a forum for liberal columnist Molly Ivins to hype the candidacies of two Texas Democrats running for state wide office, while providing no counterpoint from a conservative or Republican in the piece.
On Sunday, Safer profiled Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake about earmarks and government spending, unfortunately Safer portrayed earmarks as the only wasteful spending in Washington. In an attempt to discourage conservatives and demoralize the GOP base, "60 Minutes" attacked the Republican Congress over its failure to limit spending. Safer invoked the name of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and equated earmarks with corruption while lamenting Congress’ wasteful spending.
How accurate are polls at predicting a winner? Not too. So long as a candidate is within 10 points, most polls shouldn't be readily relied on as predictors for who will win. Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin has an interesting post today about just how important the "margin of error" really is.
On a graph, Franklin compares poll results with actual election results, resulting in several observations, one of which is the importance of realizing that polls cannot reliably predict races that are less than 10 points apart.
One interesting feature is that a margin of zero (a tied poll) produces
a 50-50 split in wins with remarkable accuracy. There is nothing I did
statistically to force the black trend line to go through the
"crosshairs" at the (0, .5) point in the graph, but it comes awfully
close. So a tied poll really does predict a coin-flip outcome.
probability of a win rises or falls rapidly as the polls move away from
a margin of zero. By the time we see a 10 point lead in the poll for
the Dem, about 90% of the Dems win. When we see a 10 point margin for
the Rep, about 90% of Reps win. That symmetry is also not something I
forced with the statistics-- it represents the simple and symmetric
pattern in the data.
More practically, it means that polls rarely miss the winner with a 10 point lead, but they DO miss it 10% of the time.
5 point lead, on the other hand, turns out to be right only about
60-65% of the time. So bet on a candidate with a 5 point lead, but
don't give odds. And for 1 or 2 point leads (as in some of our closer
races tomorrow) the polls are only barely better than 50% right in
picking the winner. That should be a sobering thought to those enthused
by a narrow lead in the polls. Quite a few of those "leaders" will
lose. Of course, an equal proportion of those trailing in the polls
So read the polls-- they are a lot better than
nothing. But don't take that 2 point lead to the bank. That is a
failure to appreciate the practical consequences of the margin for
Just four days before the election, the network news shows downplayed reports of a major drop in the unemployment rate and the creation of 231,000 new jobs. CBS’s Katie Couric groused, “But do the jobs out there pay enough?” NBC’s Brian Williams declared, “That was below expectations,” and ABC’s Charles Gibson gave the issue a total of 15 seconds.
That wasn’t the way the networks handled bad news in 2002 and 2004, when the final employment reports before Election Day were disappointing. On both occasions, ABC’s “World News Tonight” began its broadcast discussing the negative reports.
On Friday night, the PBS news show "Now" wrapped up its last show before the election by bringing on so-called "conservative" blogger Andrew Sullivan to explain why he’s telling everyone to vote Democrat. Apparently, voting Democrat is the right way to get low taxes, small government, and a competent defense. What? That’s odd, considering the show began by quoting this "conservative iconoclast" claiming "We're talking not so much about an election anymore; we're talking about an intervention. We're talking about getting these people to recognize reality."
"Now" host David Brancaccio gave viewers no shred of a clue that would make Sullivan look less than conservative, from being an editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic in the 1990s, to blogging now for Time magazine online, to his rabid support for John Kerry in 2004, to his most obvious crusade -- as a fervent lobbyist for the gay-left agenda. (The screen only read he was a blogger for the "Daily Dish," the title of his blog on Time.com.) It began with a compliment:
Brancaccio: "What is a nice conservative like you doing telling your friends and your readers to abstain from voting next week or worse?"
Sullivan: "I've done more. I've said 'vote Democrat.' Look, I'm an old-fashioned conservative. I believe in small government. I believe in low taxes. I believe in balanced budgets. I believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, states' rights and a strong competent defense. So, on all those issues, I have no choice but to oppose this president. The only way to get him to acknowledge reality and grapple with reality is by backing the Democrats."
As you’ve probably already heard, journalists are insisting that tomorrow’s elections are a referendum on Iraq — so don’t even think about voting based on where the candidates stand on extending or rescinding the effective Bush tax cuts.
On this morning’s Today, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (a highly opinionated anti-war Democrat who will nonetheless anchor the network’s election night coverage) actually warned voters that if they don't vote Democratic, the President will regard it as a mandate to continue fouling up in Iraq.
“If you go in the voting booth and you say ‘yes’ to the Republican Party, the whole world press, everywhere in the world, they’re gonna report Wednesday morning, ‘Bush does okay in the election.’ If the people vote ‘no,’ the world press will say, ‘Bush’s Iraq policies were rejected.’ And by the way, the President will read it that way. If you vote Republican Tuesday, the President will say, ‘Thank you for supporting my war policy.’ It’s about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and there’s no real other big issue,” Matthews told co-host Meredith Vieira.
"The battle for Congress rolled into a climactic final weekend with Republican Party leaders saying the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House. But they were increasingly steeling themselves for the loss of at least 15 seats and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years.
As Ace’s “CNN To The Rescue” headline both accurately and comically depicted, the most trusted name in news released a poll of its own on Monday with significantly different numbers than those released by three other media outlets yesterday as reported by Newsbusters here, here, and here. Not surprisingly, much like results shared on Saturday by Newsweek, CNN’s polling organization, Opinion Research Corporation, found that support for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections has expanded in the past week by nine percentage points.
Yes, folks, you don’t need to wash your monitor's screen. CNN said there's been an increase in Democrat support of nine percentage points in the past week. Don't believe it? Well, read it for yourself:
Nobody should be surprised when the MSM takes an anti-American angle on just about anything that is printed in the press today. Surprise is mostly reserved for articles that are fair and objective.
Thus I was typically disappointed when I opened the AP section of Yahoo News and was confronted with “World opinion divided on Saddam sentence”. However, as I read the article I was stunned at how willing the writer was to allow questionable claims to go unchecked by those opposed to the War in Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. (Update - The AP Rolled the article off the wires so I replaced the link with an ABC news copy).
There is rarely a time where a statement by Republicans or President Bush is left to hang without the typical “yeah but” rebuttal. Yet the Associated Press has reached a new low in unprofessional reporting as they allow the following quotes to hang as if they were accepted dogma; which may in fact be the case for the reporter on this story. (all emphasis mine)
If your morning coffee isn't strong enough to jolt you awake, just watch the Today show. The scaremongering should get your heart skipping a few beats.
On today's edition, reporter Tom Costello picked up on a new study that urges seat belts be added to school buses. Among the findings of the study, 17,000 children a year are injured in school bus accidents.
Nevermind that statistically, school buses are safer for ferrying your kids to school than the family SUV or that seat belts on school buses do more harm than good, as studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have shown.
Oh, did I mention Costello left out that t he American Academy of Pediatrics study also calls for kids to not squirrel around on the bus so as to lessen injuries and for better supervision of kids on buses to prevent injury?
This certainly wasn’t something I expected to see published just hours before a crucial election, but there it was in Monday’s Washington Post (hat tip to Patterico), “Soldiers in Iraq Say Pullout Would Have Devastating Results.” Granted, Josh White’s fabulous piece got relegated to page A13. But, let’s not look a gift-horse in the mouth (emphasis mine throughout):
For the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, the war is alternately violent and hopeful, sometimes very hot and sometimes very cold. It is dusty and muddy, calm and chaotic, deafeningly loud and eerily quiet.
The one thing the war is not, however, is finished, dozens of soldiers across the country said in interviews. And leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences, they said.
The panel of "mainstream" reporters on PBS's Friday night "Washington Week" roundtable sounded typically sympathetic to John Kerry's "botched joke" excuses, and dismissed its importance to the election. PBS host Gwen Ifill called it the "Kerry kerfluffle." Which is also a botched joke of some sort, since she must have meant "kerfuffle." (Doesn't she read her daily Taranto at Opinion Journal?)
Ifill: Let's talk about some of the other things that we're not certain how they will affect the outcome on Tuesday. One this week I called the ‘Kerry kerfluffle,’ where Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee last time around, came out and he said a few things which many Democrats found unhelpful. And many Republicans found to be a godsend and by the end of the week we don't know how it washes. Let's listen again."
Sparks flew on the set of NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, after Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole observed about Iraq, “It’s almost as if the Democrats, you know, it’s like they’re content with losing because to pull out, to withdraw from this war is losing. No question about it.”
Both moderator Tim Russert and Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel immediately berated Dole for her statement, but this morning a liberal Boston Globe columnist reveals the real Democratic mindset on Iraq, suggesting the U.S. must “accept defeat” in Iraq.
Dole made her comment about 40 minutes into the hour-long debate between the GOP senatorial and congressional campaign committee chairman and their Democratic counterparts. After Russert brought up a Vanity Fair article quoting some Iraq war supporters as criticizing the way the war has been handled, Dole responded by going after the Democrats’ position of withdrawing troops regardless of whether their mission has been accomplished.
Like today's election, British writer Christopher Hitchens says in The Times that the media spun what issues were important for the 1960 election. Despite the raging Cold War, the media determined that the most important issue was "Nixon’s unshaven jowls as exposed in the first televised debate."
It has been a quarter of a century since I moved to the United States but now it comes back to me how I used to resent the way in which Americans made up their minds. In the first election I was able to follow — the Nixon-Kennedy race in 1960 — there were American nuclear bases in Britain, and great American decisions to be taken about free trade and other matters that affected us all directly. Yet from the American press I learnt that the whole thing hinged on Nixon’s unshaven jowls as exposed in the first televised debate.
These days I spend a good deal of my time defending my adopted country from what I have to call anti-American attitudes, many of them based on what seem to me a mixture of envy and ignorance. But, yes, I tell the BBC man when he finally calls back, there is quite a lot of argument this fall about whether or not American schoolchildren should be exposed to the ideas first promulgated by Charles Darwin in the mid-Victorian epoch. Indeed, the subject has begun to open a split in the Republican Party, as well as between it and its critics. There is a brief silence on the line.
This is pretty hysterical. On Sunday, three different polls – Pew Research Center, USA Today/Gallup, and Washington Post/ABC News – were released showing evidence that the preference for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections has been surging in the past couple of weeks, with the gap favoring Democrats now down to between four and seven percentage points. However, Newsweek released the results of its own poll Saturday, and the magazine actually sees the Democrats expanding their lead. I kid you not (emphasis mine throughout):
Today's Wall Street Journal online edition features an important essay by sociologist James Q. Wilson examining how the American press has turned into an unpatriotic and anti-war entity. He also explains why this matters: because educated people are likely to be swayed by the media's coverage of events, whether that coverage is accurate or not.
A few excerpts:
We are told by careful
pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops
should be brought home from Iraq immediately. This news discourages
supporters of our efforts there. Not me, though: I am relieved. Given
press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90% of the
public do not want us out right now.
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005,
nearly 1,400 stories appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news.
More than half focused on the costs and problems of the war, four times
as many as those that discussed the successes. About 40% of the stories
reported terrorist attacks; scarcely any reported the triumphs of
American soldiers and Marines. The few positive stories about progress
in Iraq were just a small fraction of all the broadcasts.
The White House bureau chief for United Press International since forever (until she quit when it was acquired by the company that owns the conservative Washington Times) at 87 she's now a syndicated columnist for Hearst News Service. She tells the Inquirer:
"I'm a liberal, I was born a liberal, and I will be a liberal till the day I die. That has nothing to do with whether or not this administration is telling the truth. Nor does it have anything to do with the way I presented my stories when I was a news reporter. When I was reporting news, as a person I never bowed out of the human race -- I felt my feelings and had my opinions about things, just as anyone does -- but it never got into my copy. I was never accused of slanting my copy."
Over at GetReligion, newlywed Mollie Hemingway forwarded to her blog audience an e-mail from a reporter comparing Ted Haggard to much-celebrated gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson. The big difference between the two is which side of the political/cultural divide they stand on:
A pastor is married for years, has children, runs a successful church, advances in his denomination/sector of Christianity, and then “finds himself” and abandons wife and children for a live-in situation with another man. His reward? Consecration as a bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church of America and wide-ranging media praise. LATimes, I believe, had a nice kiss-up interview with Gene Robinson just this week.
We should have seen this one coming. The New York Times doesn't think the Saddam trial was fair enough and wants his death penalty delayed.
With the same solicitude it reserves for politically-correct domestic criminals, the Times editorial of this morning opines that Saddam's trial "fell somewhere short" of "an exemplary exercise in the rule of law." In the Times' view, the trial represented neither "full justice" nor "full fairness."
And as an opponent of the death penalty even for mass murderers, the Times predictably advises the appeals court to "defer the carrying out of any death penalty long enough to allow the completion of a second trial."
Chris Matthews just couldn't wipe that grin off his face. Interviewing him on this morning's 'Today,' Meredith Vieira began by suggesting that despite the tough electoral environment for Republicans, polls over the weekend were showing movement in their direction. She started to pose a question, but so distracting was Matthews' mugging that she couldn't continue, asking instead "why are you smiling?"
"Because I think it's going to be a wipe-out. I think the Democrats are going to carry the House by 20-some, high-20s and I think the Senate seats are perhaps not six, but five, and I can see a big victory for the Democrats."
In Monday's Media Notes column in the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz found the media are attracted to polls like crack cocaine, and they've "grown addicted to the GOP-in-trouble narrative." Kurtz says it isn't about liberal bias, but the desire for a change in story line. Riiight. Journalists confirm that Democrats have been boasting of a takeover:
"If you mention something enough times, you make it seem as if it must be so," says NBC's Williams. But, he says, "if the media are guilty of beating the Democratic House takeover drums, the media share that guilt with prominent Democrats, who in on- and off-the-record settings have indeed been all but measuring the drapes."
Imagine if you will that a month ago, a major newspaper, in combination with a major polling organization, had pronounced that the Republicans were ahead by 23 percentage points in voter preference for the upcoming midterm elections. Further imagine that just two weeks ago, this lead had been trimmed to thirteen. And, just for argument’s sake, with two days to go before the pivotal elections, the Democrats had cut this lead to only seven points. Do you think the opening paragraph in the article on this subject by this major, left-leaning newspaper might address this?
Well, USA Today just posted an article at its website (hat tip to The Strata-Sphere) concerning a new poll done with the Gallup Organization (this author is waiting with baited breath for the full results to be published!), and the most important finding of the survey didn’t come until the sixth paragraph (emphasis mine): “What's more, President Bush's last-ditch push for votes and Sen. John Kerry's comments that seemed to denigrate the education level of U.S. forces in Iraq have helped energize GOP voters. A Democratic advantage of 23 percentage points a month ago and 13 points two weeks ago is now down to 7.”
Instead of leading with that important information, the reader had to wade through the following:
According to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, if Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford loses Tuesday, you can blame it on white conservatives. On Sunday morning, as he appeared in a segment hosted by Alex Witt, Matthews chided whites for an unwillingness to vote for black politicians, contending that "blacks vote for whites," but "whites don't vote for blacks." Matthews added that in states with large black populations, fear leads whites to become conservative Republicans. Matthews: "The larger the black population, where the whites are afraid historically, and in Deep South states, they tend to become very conservative Republican out of fear, whatever, of an overwhelming, or a large number of African-Americans because of the kind of culture." Ignored by Matthews was the willingness of white conservatives to support black statewide candidates like Maryland's Michael Steele, Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell, and Pennsylvania's Lynn Swann, in this year's elections, while white liberals will be supporting white Democratic candidates instead, demonstrating that party affiliation is the deciding factor in whether white conservatives vote for a black candidate. Notably, in Maryland's Senate primary, Democratic voters rejected black Democratic candidate Kweisi Mfume, a former Congressman, in favor of white candidate and Congressman Benjamin Cardin during their party's primary, while the Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, is black. (Transcript follows)
Another poll was released on Sunday showing a late surge of support for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday (grateful hat tip to NB reader American Infidel). This time it’s the Pew Research Center defying conventional wisdom (emphasis mine throughout):
A nationwide Pew Research Center survey finds voting intentions shifting in the direction of Republican congressional candidates in the final days of the 2006 midterm campaign. The new survey finds a growing percentage of likely voters saying they will vote for GOP candidates. However, the Democrats still hold a 48% to 40% lead among registered voters, and a modest lead of 47%-43% among likely voters.
In my first piece about this surprising Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Sunday indicating that the Republicans have been picking up ground on the Democrats in the past two weeks, I said that it would be interesting to see how this survey got reported. As compared to what ABC’s “This Week” did Sunday morning (i.e. beginning the program discussing it), CBS’s response was much more predictable. However, what was peculiar is the person CBS used to discredit the data given his pedigree and bona fides.
With that in mind, Bob Schieffer invited CBS political analyst Stuart Rothenberg on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” Rothenberg made it clear that he sees a big Democrat victory in the House on Tuesday (up to 40 seats), and the Democrats picking up four to seven seats in the Senate (video here). As the discussion moved to who will actually turn out to vote, Rothenberg questioned the methodology of the Washington Post/ABC News poll:
This reminds me of something blogger Ace of Spades mentioned to me some time ago about how it's not just the words, it's the pictures. Seemingly without exception, stories about the economy durng the 1990s had images or video of machines producing currency, cash registers ringing, and heavy traffic inside shopping malls. When's the last time anyone saw any of this in a news report about this very good economy?