Nagourney buries the lede again: Isn't the news in the latest CBS/New York Times poll that it shows Bush inching ahead-- that the current (pre-Spanish election) campaign dynamic, including Bush's advertising launch, has been working at least slightly in the President's favor? A month ago CBS had Kerry over Bush by five percent, but in the new poll Bush leads Kerry 46 to 43 even without Nader. The NYT's Nagourney and Elder comically don't get around to imparting this information until paragraph #8, choosing instead to emphasize the anti-incumbent suggestion that "Bush and Kerry enter the general election at a time of growing concern among Americans that the nation is veering in the wrong direction." That puts the lede two paragraphs lower down than readers found it in the days before the 2002 midterms, when Nagourney buried the big news (that the Republicans were surging) in paragraph 6. Who's going in the wrong direction? ... Note: Rasmussen's tracking crack shows no pro-Bush trend. But Nagourney wasn't reporting on the Rasmussen poll. ... Hah! The headline on the NYT piece is:
"Nation's Direction Prompts Voters' Concern, Poll Finds."
CBS chose a different headline for its report on the exact same poll. What was it?
"Poll: Bush Moves Ahead of Kerry."
Prosecution rests! ... Update: Captain Ed agrees, adds some v.p. angles. ... P.S.: Since late February, Kerry's favorability rating has dropped ten points, from 37/28 favorable/unfavorable to 28/29. Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster, is pointing this out in an email "slated to be sent to campaign leaders," according to The Note. Nagourney and Elder don't bother to mention those Kerry numbers. If Bush had dropped ten points ... Mr. 'Electability': Isn't the synthesized lesson of this poll: Voters are unhappy. The incumbent is vulnerable. But the Democrats have nominated Kerry. Just a stray thought. 6:36 A.M.
Kerry vs. Feiler, the Recount: Gabriel Snyder, who reports on politics for the journal of opinion, Variety, emails with a useful framework that saves the Feiler Faster Thesis:
I've been puzzling over your note today that the Feiler Faster Principle didn't apply in the primaries and "voters didn't process much information about John Kerry at all."
That may be true, but I don't think the FFP is in danger. The lesson learned is that FFP applies to news cycles and not simply information.
The main reason voters didn't process much negative info about Kerry between Iowa and Super Tuesday is because no one was telling them. [I'm not counting the daily negative press releases from the GOP. ...Both the media and voters are reluctant to let Republicans set the agenda for the Democratic primary ...] Under the FFP, voters are no more likely to go out and seek information, they still need to be fed. The speed in which that information, once presented, can be digested has increased. More information may ultimately be consumed, but that's more a factor of news media feeling pressed to move on to the next story, not necessarily an increased demand for information from the public.
If John Edwards, or any of the other candidates, attempted to define the daily news cycle by hammering at Kerry (which journos were practically begging Edwards to do), you would have seen that information processed very quickly indeed. Once the attack/response wheel starts spinning, we could have started on the Sunday morning shows debating whether Kerry had flip-flopped on Iraq and ended the week on Inside Politics with news analysis of whether throwing someone else's ribbons was being pereceived as a character issue.
For whatever reason (stand by your ad requirements, or -- my personal fave theory -- the lesson of the murder-suicide by Dean and Gephardt), the Democratic primary was tediously not negative after Iowa. So, negative information was not processed.
I'd argue that the demand side--whether voters want to learn about the candidates--plays at least as big a role as the candidate-driven and press-driven supply of stories. Either engine can drive the machine. If Democratic primary voters had hungered for information about Kerry, wouldn't the press have found a way to get it to them, even without negative ads? But the Democrats were incurious--as incurious, in their way, as George W. Bush is said to be. I suspect they will pay a high price for nominating someone they know so little about (other than that he's supposedly "electable"). ... 10:19 P.M.
Spinning the Cocoon: Doesn't the NYT's David Halbfinger know any Republican political strategists? Or even any Democratic strategists willing to offer anything other than new variations of hopeful spin?(Sample: "He's tough, he fights back, he stands up, he doesn't apologize," says Tony Coelho.) Here are all the people Halbfinger quotes on Kerry's recent efforts:
Kerry aides. ...Mr. Kerry's advisers .... many Democrats ... Mr. Kerry's advisers ... Mr. Kerrry's aides. ...one consultant to the campaign... Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's communications director ... one senior Kerry adviser ... The Kerry [campaign] officials ... a Kerry official ... Geoffrey Garin, a pollster for Gen Wesley K. Clark's campaign ... Mr. Garin and other Democratic strategists ... Tony Coelho, who was Al Gore's campaign chairman in 2000 ... Kerry advisers ... Mr. Coelho ... Mr. Kerry's aides ...A senior campaign official ...Mr. Kerry's aides ... the official ...