The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Crazy World of the National Media

People on the Left think the media is biased towards the Right. People on the Right complain about a pervasive Liberal media bias. My own sense is that the bias of the media leans towards stupid. Looking for school closings on TV this morning -- we had our first snow -- I watched Good Morning America. I realize why so many Democratic friends are tearing their hair out in despair about this election. If you surround yourself with mainstream media, you are convinced that Kerry doesn't stand a hope in holy hell. They had a reporter covering the campaign who argued that both sides see the election coming down to Wisconsin and were pouring their efforts and attention into that state. They finished the story reporting that Gallup's latest poll has Bush leading Kerry 52%-44%. But on the Votemaster's webpage -- he reveals his identity today by the way -- Zogby's latest effort has Kerry leading Bush 51% to 44%. They can't both be right. And using a little statistics, a poll is supposed to tell us that 95 times out of 100, the candidate's true proportion should lie within the confidence interval. In this case, that would be between 48% and 56% for Bush. So how do Zogby's number's fit in? They are a whole margin of error below the lower bound of Gallup's margin. One possibility is that one of the polls is simply an example of those rare 5 times out of 100 when the confidence interval reported does not encompass the true share of the vote. Another is that polls really do not represent how a public is thinking after all of the massaging that pollsters give to the numbers.

Given how pollsters doctor the data once they finish their survey, I think they need to be honest that they are no longer reporting poll results, but predictions based on their model of voter turnout. Of course, all of these subtleties escape the notice of the media. Hopefully, when this election is all said and done, they will send some of their political reporters back to school to learn some basic statistics.

There is more good news from the Votemaster's website today. More confirmation that things appear to be breaking for Kerry. In addition, the latest polls from Zogby, Fox and Washington Post lean in Kerry's favor. Over at TPM, Josh Marshall points out that Gallup's latest work on people who have already voted shows sizable leads for Kerry in Iowa and Florida.

Meanwhile, over at The Note, that choice example of self-referential Beltway-Media conventional wisdom, we have this on the pre-election numbers:

"But the weekend polls tell us little beyond that President Bush is probably a little ahead nationally and under 50 but close to 50, but that perhaps John Kerry has more strength in the battlegrounds than nationally, which doesn't necessarily mean of course that he is ahead in enough battlegrounds to win, and so either man can prevail but it is close."

"[Kerry's] reliance on young and first-time voters should be — for sane Democrats — terrifying. 'I would much prefer our position than theirs,' Bush strategist Matthew Dowd tells USA Today. 'They would, too, if given truth serum.'"

Stupid is as stupid does.

My advice to my Democratic friends. Ignore the mainstream media. They got it wrong in 2000. They said 2002 was going to be close. Until proven correct, assume they are wrong. Seal yourself in a hermetically sealed bubble of Left-wing media. Air America, blogs like TPM, NewDonkey, DonkeyRising, DailyKos, and read The American Prospect, The Nation, The New Yorker, or some such rag.

Voter Suppression Tactics Update: Looks like the effort is spreading to Wisconsin. Or more accrately, a national strategy has reared it's head in Wisconsin. And South Carolina. Kerry has no hope of winning here but Democratic hopes of winning back the Senate rest on Inez Tenenbaum's chances against Jim DeMint.


You are right about the polls. There are many who think that we're going to have 5 million new voters age 18-24 voting in this election. They are hard to reach in polls, and they are supporting Kerry by a healthy margin. Additionally, whatever we thought about African American turnout is only strengthened by the IRS/NAACP story that broke at the end of last week. Kerry's base is energized, and weekend reports of field activity in crucial states like OH and FL indicate alot of intensity.

By Blogger elliemo, at 1:35 PM  

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