And Now, Narrative Trutherism

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 23 2012 3:05 PM

And Now, Narrative Trutherism

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- I feel Alec MacGillis's pain. Really, I do. His reporting from swing states and swing races, especially Ohio, has eschewed horse-racing and cliches and produced more scoops than seems fair. But this deeply felt epistle about the "narrative," which blames the media for overrating Romney's first debate, is mightily unconvincing. Here's MacGillis's best evidence.

In the days that followed, the power of our story bore out across the land. Romney surged in the polls, in a post-debate bounce unlike any ever recorded. Never mind that closer inspection suggested that his rise had begun just before the debate, as Obama’s prior bounce abated. As we like to say in private company, this story was too good to check.

The problem: You can't analyze a Romney rise based solely on the topline, horse race number. Romney's campaign argues, and Democrats quietly admit, that the great effect of the debate was a spike in the candidate's sluggish favorable numbers. And they're right. Check the RealClearPolitics average. On October 3, the day of the Denver debate, Romney maintained a net negative favorable number -- 48.2 percent, to 47 percent favorable. One week later, Romney's favorables had risen into the positive zone, and they've only risen since.

Advertisement

Ask yourself: Were the voters who looked more kindly on Romney being mislead by a "media narrative"? To really prove that, you'd have to know how many voters saw the debate versus how many read the spin. Nearly 70 million people watched the debate, in an election that will probably bring out at least 130 million voters. How many of these people watch Piers Morgan Tonight?

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.