Free Markets, Free People

Media

Time to “like” QandO on Facebook

OK, guys, you’ve delayed long enough.  Head on over to Facebook and like QandO  (it didn’t kill Kyle8).

We’re actually calling it QandO Plus because we’re popping up links to content you don’t find over here.

So?

So go do it (we’re trying to get over 100 today and over 200 by the weekend … so help out, will ya?).

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO

Media bias? Majority of likely voters say yes

This can’t help the mainstream media’s already battered reputation or it’s constant claim of objective political reporting:

Likely voters, by a five-to-one margin, believe that America’s media is in President Obama’s pocket and will treat his candidacy better than challenger Mitt Romney’s as the election nears, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.

The startling numbers point to an even more disturbing trend for the media: Reporters just aren’t trusted to deliver the news in an unbiased fashion. The proof: Rasmussen found that when it comes to information about the presidential campaign, 48 percent of likely voters trust friends and family while just 26 percent trust reporters.

In fact, it’s even worse than those two lead paragraphs in the story:

The poll found that 59 percent of likely voters believe that the media has given Obama better treatment than Romney, a view Team Obama doesn’t agree with. Just 18 percent believe the media has treated Romney better.

Whether or not “Team Obama” agrees is irrelevant.  In politics, perception is reality.  And the reality is a large majority of likely voters (the key demographic) find the media both bias and wanting in terms of fair, objective and balanced political reporting.

So what is the impact of this?

Well, for one, tuning the media out.  Few people are likely to keep listening to or watching coverage don’t trust.  One of the reasons for the rise of the new media is it provides an important “other side” to the coverage of politics.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, the mainstream media has been unable to convince almost 60% of the likely voters they’re unbiased and trustworthy.  That has to come from somewhere when you talk those numbers.  And it is unlikely it is only a figment of that 60%’s imagination.  They see the bias as real and they don’t like it or trust what they consider the biased outlets.

If you’re wondering why CNN’s numbers are at an all time low or why newspapers are failing this is part of it.  Meanwhile the new media is thriving.  It may not be objective, but readers and viewers know that, because new media outlets make no bones about it.  What these outlets provide is “the rest of the story”.  And when the rest of the story comes out, and all the facts are on the table, not just what the mainstream media chose to use,  it makes the mainstream medias bias apparent.

Another reason the mainstream media is considered to be in Obama’s pocket is that instead of asking hard questions and follow up, and researching a story, they’ve become a transcription service.  Whatever the campaign or White House put out is dutifully published or announced with little or any questioning.  When that is shot full of holes by blogs and on-line news services and pundits, they again look to be biased (when, in many cases, they’re just not doing their job).

The question, of course, is with almost 60% of likely voters believing that the mainstream media is in Obama’s pocket, what effect will that have on the election.

In the past the media has, of course, played a large role in helping determine who the next president would be.  Will the 60% disregard and ignore the media?   Will they treat it as a propaganda arm of the campaign and seek their information elsewhere?  Because of the perception held by a majority of the likely voters, will the media play a diminished role in this election?

All interesting and entertaining questions which we’ll have to monitor during this election cycle. 

I remember years ago, after QandO got started and blogs began having some visibility and impact, media organizations sniffing down their arrogant noses at these upstarts who dared to question their dominance and reminding everyone the difference between some loser in the basement in his pajamas churning out his stuff and a professional organization, with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors.

Well as it turns out, that difference hasn’t mattered.  The pajama clad are still around (and pretty well established now) and the professional organizations with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors have seen their reputations and followings dwindle.

You’d think, by now, they’d be clued into the ‘why’, but apparently its like economics to the left – it just doesn’t compute.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO

Recovery? Maybe it is time to use the “D” word

Market Watch writer Al Lewis opines:

The Great Depression that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims to have averted has been part of the background radiation of our economy since at least 2008.

It’s just that like radiation — it’s invisible.

Uh, no.  It’s no.  It is simply a word, a description, that most of the media refuses to use.

Here, try it out.  “Depression.”  See, it’s not so hard.

In fact anyone who takes an objective look at what we’ve been suffering has concluded that while our current condition may not fit the arbitrary definition of whatever is considered a depression today, our economy certainly isn’t in any condition to be called recovered or even “recovering”.  In fact, it is a disaster:

 

073112recovery1

 

In a new research note, JPMorgan points out that since 1970, Japan, Finland and Sweden have all gone through what the U.S. is currently going through. And all three of them had recoveries stronger than America’s. The above chart compares the economic recovery — as measured by real GDP per capita — of each nation at different points after the trough of their recessions. And the U.S. is in dead last after 12 quarters from the bottom.

Take a particular look at Japan.  That is the economy during the “lost decade” that we’re currently underperforming.  Says JP Morgan’s Michael Feroli:

The poster child for slow growth coming out of a debt-fuelled financial crisis has to be Japan, which ever since the early 1990s has had trouble getting a head of steam. The recession which kicked off Japan’s “lost decade” lasted from 1991 to 1993. Including the recovery experience from that recession is sobering: we are currently faring worse than Japan at the same point in their lost decade.

So what’s the plan?  How are we going to work ourselves out of this position?  What policies will we institute to begin the actual, not pseudo, recovery?  Well, it’s an election year.  Don’t expect to hear the hard truths from this administration.  Instead, prepare to be reminded “its working”.  That in spite of reality:

As the economy reels, the national debt approaches $16 trillion, and we hear fears of Congress jumping off a fiscal cliff by year-end. Many states and local governments are struggling with massive deficits, too. Three California cities have filed bankruptcies.

U.S. companies are warning of slower growth amid Europe’s meltdown, yet the Dow Jones Industrial Average has crossed the 13,000 mark, and some observers are predicting new highs for the index soon.

The rising stock market is as counterintuitive as interest rates falling to new lows after the U.S. lost its triple-A debt rating last year. It isn’t that investors aren’t wary. It’s just that every place else makes them more wary. This isn’t the definition of a recovery.

No, it’s not.  But then Lewis doubles down with stupid:

The cure for our battered economy has been to allow our disasters to occur more slowly through taxpayer bailouts and extraordinary interventions from the Fed. So far, this strategy has worked. We have averted a sudden crash in favor of a depressingly slower one.

As we said from the very beginning, you can either let the economy takes its course and suffer the results quickly, get over it and recover, or you can find a way to extend it to where the effect may not be as dramatic but will linger and linger and linger.

We chose the latter path and it hasn’t at all worked out the way it was predicted (remember, at this point, unemployment was supposed to be in the 5% area if the stimulus was approved and 8% area if it wasn’t – so it’s hard to say “it worked”, isn’t it?).

The spin says the downturn was softened.  But again, I point to the promises vs. the reality.  We are no better off in terms of unemployment than it was claimed we’d be if we didn’t go an additional trillion dollars in debt.

And the economy isn’t recovering, it’s bouncing along the bottom of a trough with the possibility of going even lower if Europe implodes.

Yet the only plan I’ve seen or heard about is to repeat what failed previously with the Fed talking about a QE3 while we’re already awash in about 10 trillion dollars in funds it has already injected.  I don’t know about you but I simply haven’t much confidence in Ben Bernanke’s assurances that he can wring all that cash out of the system without triggering another economic downturn or hyperinflation.  History is not on his side.

I think Ace points to the truth of the matter that the media and politicians simply won’t touch:

This is the worst "recovery" by any nation since 1970, and it could be partly due to a category error: We’re not recovering from a recession, we’re still in the depths of a depression.

That’s right, it isn’t the “worst recovery”.  There hasn’t been a recovery. There have been “bright spots” here and there which quickly faded, but overall, we’re in the same place economically we’ve been for months and years.  And it isn’t an “invisible” depression to the unemployed and those who’ve given up hope and dropped out of the job market.  It is very visible.  And most likely they remember the promises and the results.

Of course, instead of facing this and holding politicians accountable, our media will continue to play to the distractions, the nonsense and the irrelevant instead of asking the hard questions, demanding answers and informing voters.

Unfortunately, such is life in America today.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Ice melt in Greenland exposes different ways media treats the story (Update)

According to the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen, Greenland is in the middle of an “extreme ice melt”.  You can read the article and consider the point.  I’ll give her credit.  She reports it pretty objectively including this as a reason for the melt:

NASA says that it is normal for Greenland’s ice to melt a bit in the summer; what is abnormal is the extent. Normally, only about half of the ice sheet’s surface sees any melting. This year, that proportion just about doubled. NASA additionally said that its satellites were recording uncharacteristically high temperatures over the island. Those warmer temperatures were brought by a bubble of warm air (a "heat dome"), the latest in a series of such ridges that have moved over Greenland this year.

In other words, a regional event.

She also mentions:

The last such melt event occurred in 1889, according to data from ice cores, and scientists say they would expect such an event about every 150 years. They’ll be monitoring the ice closely in the years ahead to see if this turns out to be a regular aberration, or an irregular one.

Got it.  Thanks for noting the event which appears to have a history (I’ll cover how much of a history below).

The UK’s Guardian kicks it up a notch with the use of the word “unprecedented” in their title.

“Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July”

No.  It didn’t. As we see from the Atlantic’s treatment,  this event isn’t at all “unprecedented.”  In fact, if I have any gripe about the Atlantic’s coverage is it stopped short of noting a longer history of Greenland’s ice melts:

greenland

 

Greenland, as you can see, has seen periods as warm or warmer than now in its history. One could logically assume then that it would have had the same sorts of weather events during those periods as it experienced during the recent week in early July. 

BTW, here’s an explanation of the numbers you see above:

greenland temp history

“Unprecedented” is obviously a incorrect characterization of the event.  Why did the Guardian seize on the word?
Because some scientist conveniently used it:

However, scientists were still coming to grips with the shocking images on Tuesday. "I think it’s fair to say that this is unprecedented," Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Guardian.

Again, no, it isn’t “unprecedented”.  And obviously the Guardian didn’t take the time to find out if it really was.  A simple Wikipedia check would have produced the above graph.

So why the acceptance of the scientist’s characterization without checking?  I think that too is obvious – it’s scarier than admitting it has a long history of occurring,  many times prior to the industrial revolution.  It lends more immediacy to the story.   The fact that throughout its history Greenland has seen a cycle of warmer and colder weather is “inconvenient” to the scare factor related to AGW.  Certainly the Guardian is careful not to come right out and scream global warming, but by noting this “unprecedented” event, it certainly is clear that global warming, and specifically AGW,  is the dot to which they want you to connect this to.

The NY Times, on the other hand, notes the melt and takes a different approach.  While noting the melt and the high pressure ridge, the Times throws this into the mix:

Nonetheless, the scientists said, the melt was significant because Greenland’s ice sheet is unequivocally shrinking as a result of the warming of the world’s oceans, and the event could help broaden their insights into climate change and earth systems.

While they don’t claim that AGW is the cause for warming oceans (don’t worry, there are plenty of others out there that do), they don’t endeavor to explain why oceans have been warming for the past 100 years.

Here’s a pretty significant clue.  It’s a 2,300 year Hallstatt solar variation cycles graph:

800px-Carbon-14-10kyr-Hallstadtzeit_Cycles

Anyone notice what has been rising for the last 1,000 or so years?

In fact, says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures… the brighter sun and higher levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" both contributed to the change in the Earth’s temperature, but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

As it is turning out, it appears it may be the Sun.  CO2 has always been a lagging indicator in warming history until it was recently elevated by some “scientists” to a leading cause.  It has not shown the effect on temperature predicted by warmist models, however.  In fact, it hasn’t even been close even while the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to rise. 

The point of all of this?  It appears that those traditionally associated with the AGW scaremongering are toning down their rhetoric even while still attempting, through half-truths, incomplete reporting and implication, to push the AGW agenda, albeit much more subtly now. 

Don’t let them get away with it.

UPDATE: And then, of course, there are those who don’t have a clue and don’t care, especially when they can use this to club the GOP.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Media Appearance Today (Updated)

If you live on Florida’s Space Coast, I’ll be on AM 1300 WMEL around 3PM Eastern, to talk about the economy and stuff. If you’re not on the Space Coast, you can listen live, worldwide, here.

UPDATE: If you’d like to listen, here is the whole interview I did on WMEL today. I cut out all the commercial breaks and whatnot, but even so, it’s still 36:20 long, so consider it an extra podcast for the week.

I don’t consider myself a "renowned economist", however. Or even an economist at all. I mean, I got me the book learnin’ in it, and I know my ciphers and my figurin’ and whatnot, but my work in the field has been in economic journalism, rather than formal work as an economist.

But the WMEL guys were very nice to me, and I appreciate it.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama’s lies and the media’s betrayal

How little interest has the media show in the actual facts of Barack Obama’s history?

The simple answer is “very little”.  For instance I expect a minute and basically negative examination of the Mormon religion when Mitt Romney is officially nominated.  That’s already being set up by numerous of those type articles already beginning to surface.

But Obama’s 20 years in a church with a reverend who basically preached anti-Americanism and black liberation theology? Meh.

A great example of what I’m talking about is covered by Jonathan Tobin in Commentary’s “Contentions” blog.  It is about the story oft repeated by Obama.  It is his version of his mother death of cancer because those nasty old insurance companies wouldn’t pay.

It’s a lie.  Again, I use the word “lie” much less frequently than do many in the press or around the blogosphere.  A lie is a knowing falsehood. I try to restrict my usage to that tight definition.  As it turns out, the story Obama has told repeatedly as the truth about his mother’s death is, in fact, a lie.  Oh, and the mainstream media knows it. 

Proof?  Well, they said so.

Never let it be said the New York Times is afraid to tackle an unflattering story about President Obama, even if it’s often a delayed reaction. The paper’s political blog The Caucus deigned to notice today that the new biography of the president by David Maraniss uncovered the fact that much of Dreams From My Father, the highly praised Barack Obama autobiography, is either fabricated or exaggerated. The Times’s Michael Shear opines that having its author now sitting in the White House has brought Dreams more scrutiny than its author could have envisioned when he wrote it in 1995. But the problem with contemporary analyses of the questionable personal history in the book is not so much the peril associated with being a famous political author but whether the book provides proof of a pattern of falsehoods and distortions about his past that has been one of the hallmarks of the president’s public career.

The answer to that question is contained near the bottom of the piece in which Shear lets drop that proof of such a pattern was already provided by his own newspaper last year. Though the Times buried the story when it broke and then never followed up or editorialized on the scandal, it was their own reporter Janny Scott whose research on the life of the president’s mother Ann Dunham revealed that the oft-told story of her dying because of the failure of her health insurance company to pay for her cancer treatment was a flat out lie. But while Shear is right that this year’s election will not turn on how Maraniss’s book is received, the unwillingness of the Times and other mainstream publications to call out Obama for writing fiction and calling it autobiography gives us a good indication of how much of an advantage having a quiescent media is for an incumbent president. [emphasis mine]

You know the standard line here: imagine them discovering something like this about someone on the right.  Do you suppose it would not be followed up or be editorialized?  Do you suppose they’d skip pointing out it seems to indicate a pattern?

As to that pattern and the specifics of his mother’s death:

The fables Obama seems to have told about his alienation, his girlfriends and the rest of his over-intellectualized voyage of self-discovery actually pale in comparison to the whopper he told when running for election in 2008 that his mother died because she had been denied coverage and treatment of her disease. Scott revealed that in fact the expenses relating to her cancer had been paid by her insurance. Though she had a separate and totally unrelated dispute relating to disability coverage, Scott’s research proved that Obama’s statement during the 2008 presidential debate was fiction:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”

It bears repeating that the president knew this account was false because he served as his mother’s attorney in all her dealings with the insurance company. [emphasis mine]

And where did the Times run this revelation?  What was the White House reaction?

When the Times ran that story (on page 14 rather than on the front page), the White House chose not to deny the truth of Scott’s reporting. But that didn’t stop the Obama campaign from  refloating the same falsehoods about Ms. Dunham having perished for lack of insurance coverage in an autobiographical campaign film narrated by Tom Hanks.

So the Times discovered what would be a bombshell revelation were it anyone else, they plop it out on page 14, the White House denies it and that ends it?

Now that’s journalism isn’t it?  Duty fulfilled, even halfheartedly, and now safe to ignore.  Meanwhile the lie lives on and no one even bothers to address the fact that’s what it is.  It is pure political propaganda designed to demonize an industry in order to gain popular consent to all but wreck it and have government take its place.

Yet, it’s only worth page 14 in the “paper of record” and zero followup. 

Not only has the president never apologized for lying to the American people about his mother’s plight, he rightly assumed that even though the truth was uncovered by the New York Times, neither that paper nor the rest of the mainstream media would follow up on it as they undoubtedly would had a Republican ever tried to sell the voters such a transparent whopper.

There’s the bottom line.

Another example of how poorly a biased media is serving the public.  Yet they wonder why the public’s confidence in them continues to drop and newspapers all over the country are dying.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

MSNBC and “Wawa-gate”

As anyone who follows politics knows, MSNBC “leans forward” or, has all but publically announced it is the liberal news network.

Fine.  I have no problem with that.  In fact, I’m comfortable with it because it allows me to put into context anything they say or report.

However, a disturbing trend has emerged with the network.  It’s one thing to have a particular bias to your reporting.  It is another thing to report things dishonestly.  And MSNBC has been caught red handed doing that at least twice here fairly recently.  Ed Shultz edited a tape of Rick Perry in such a way as to make what he said sound like a racial slur.   Then there was the edited George Zimmerman tape.

Now we have the “Wawa” tape.  In it, Mitt Romney is made to appear “amazed” by some technology in the store with the obvious intent of recreating the George H. W. Bush grocery store scanner moment.  The point, of course, was to make Romney look like Bush who, the left contended, was so out of touch that he hadn’t been in a grocery store in so long he was unaware they used scanners.

Of course, as with most things, context is key.  In the case of Bush, he indeed hadn’t been in a grocery store and was indeed amazed by the scanner.  The “out-of-touch” claim had some validity.  And, politically, it also hurt him.

That last sentence is key.  And the MSNBC logic seems elementary as well as obviously transparent.  If that hurt Bush, let’s gin this up to hurt Romney.

But there were multiple problems with MSNBC’s attempt to smear the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.  First and foremost, what they were trying to portray wasn’t true.   Secondly, they seem to have forgotten that there are an army of watchdogs in the new media that inspect everything they say or do.  Third, they seem unaware they aren’t the only organization with video of the event in question.  And finally, they’re arrogant and believe they can pull off crap like this despite one through three.

So how did it go down?  Well, in a short clip shown by MSNBC, Romney, who had visited a convenience store named Wawa, talked about ordering a sandwich:

“It’s amazing," Romney said, as the Pennsylvania crowd appeared to laugh. Then viewers saw Romney say, "You have a touchtone keypad, and you touch that, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich.”

It was presented as a Bush moment with both Andrea Mitchell and Chris Cillizza laughing at how out-of-touch Romney was.  And, as expected:

Mitchell invoked an old perceived campaign stumble by George Bush, who supposedly marveled at a supermarket scanner at a grocers’ convention during his failed 1992 re-election bid.

But that wasn’t at all the context for Romney’s remark.  Here’s what he said prior to that line:

What viewers didn’t see or hear was nearly three minutes of Romney discussing the nightmare of paperwork faced by an optometrist he’d talked to in trying to get the post office to change his address. He expressed mock amazement at Wawa’s efficiency to underscore how the private sector often runs circles around the clumsy bureaucracy.

"We went to Wawas and it was instructive to me, because I saw the difference between the private sector and the governmental sector. People who work in government are good people and I respect what they do, but you see, the challenge with government is that it doesn’t have competition,” Romney said in a portion edited out of the segment.

Wow … that sort of context seems pretty important to the story if you’re actually a reporter and not a hack.

And that’s sort of the point of all this.  MSNBC continues to damage itself (self- inflicted wounds) to the point that no one is going to take them as a credible news source anymore (many of us already dismiss what they say unless vetted by a more reliable source).  Instead, they’ll be considered a propaganda outlet.  What they did with the Romney and Perry tapes certainly seem to be attempts at propaganda vs. news.

By the way, it’s not like other cable networks don’t have their own credibility issues (the left views Fox as the right views MSNBC).  But MSNBC seems to be the worst of the lot, at least at this point.   But, as someone recently said, as their viewership shrinks in the wake of these scandals, the only demographic that may be increasing for them is conservative and GOP viewers.  MSNBC has become an entertainment channel for them.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Interrupt this President? Terrible. Throw a show at a President? Hilarious.

Today a reporter for the Daily Caller interrupted the President in a Rose Garden announcement about his decision to selectively enforce the law of the land based on his whim (and pure political calculation not to mention a flip-flop).

The guy who saw fit to interrupt twice the President’s address in the Rose Garden on his new immigration policy, which was being carried live by the cable nets, was actually a reporter for The Daily Caller named Neil Munro.

The left is appalled by the reporter’s behavior (apparently deciding what parts of laws you’ll enforce, though, is ok).  The Emperor President was not amused.

Good thing he didn’t throw his shoes at  Obama. I’m sure, as they did the last time that happened to a President, the left would have found that hilarious.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

A sterling example of that “world class temperament” we’ve often been told about

It’s amazing, though, how much “world class temperament” resembles the behavior of an irritable, spoiled four year old:

 

Details on this reporter, Neil Munro, actually trying to be a reporter are here.

This episode was, naturally, followed by the usual panties-in-a-wad bleating from our legacy media, 95% of whom are far too cowardly and biased to challenge Obama on anything at any time. So naturally, they declared Obama a holy personage, and designated Munro’s questions as blasphemy. Well, something like that; when these guys get into high dudgeon, it always sounds to me like they’re talking about their religion.

I do believe I detect some serious frustration in our noble President. Not to mention frustration in his legacy media acolytes. Though I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for Romney, I must say that watching the sour phiz that Brian Williams might have to wear this November would be fun.

Of course, some of us had this guy’s number from pretty early on. And some others, such as the last commenter on that thread, were determined to be fooled by Obama indefinitely. Some still are. No names needed, I think; examples abound.

(Found via Ace and Insty.)

A Primer on polling

As I’ve mentioned any number of times, you have to be careful about what polls you consider as worthy of believing and what polls are likely not particularly accurate.  Jay Cost has a great article about that with the added point that the media doesn’t understand what he tells you and so doesn’t understand the races in the various states.

He points to this from the Hill as an example:

President Obama is retaining his commanding lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, topping the Republican presidential nominee by 12 points in a poll released Wednesday by Franklin & Marshall College. Obama would win the favor of 48 percent of Keystone State voters, versus just 36 percent for Romney, according to the poll.

First:

1. The president is under 50 percent in most swing state polling averages. It’s not an ironclad rule that Obama cannot rise in the polls, but common sense suggests that it will be tough. He’s been the president for three years – if you’re not inclined to vote for him now, what will five months of a campaign do?

That’s an important point – if you’re the incumbent and polling under 50%, you’re in trouble regardless of the type voter the poll uses.  Also note that the Romney candidacy isn’t even official yet.  He would likely see a rise in preference once he is officially the GOP candidate.

Another point I’ll expand on later – favorability.  Cost says this:

It’s worth noting as well that most of these polls show the president getting roughly his job approval, which is all we should expect him to receive in the general election (maybe a little less). And his job approval rating has consistently been under 50 percent for two-and-a-half years.

Not good.  Not insurmountable, but certainly not an indicator of a strong candidate.  More on favorability later.

2. Most polls are of registered voters. This matters because the actual electorate will only be a subset of registered voters, and will probably be more inclined to vote for the GOP. So, these polls probably overstate Obama’s “lead,” such as it is.

With a state like Pennsylvania, using registered voters, you most likely get an oversampling of Democrats.  Which side is most likely to be motivated this time?  The GOP.  So the number quoted in the Hill story is probably considerably lower than claimed (remember Wisconsin?  A state carried by 14 points in 2008 is now showing 7 points).

3. There is no “blue wall.” This is a common point pundits will make – the list of states that have not voted Republican since 1988 amounts to a “blue wall” for the president. Nonsense. It’s better to say that these states have Democratic tilts, some of them pretty minimal.

We’ve seen evidence of that in landslide elections.  There’s no “red wall” either.  It’s all about tilts.  Some states tilt more than others but all states, at some point, are in play.  Think preference cascade.

Says Cost:

The states with a Republican tilt of at least 1 point total up to 253 electoral votes, based on the 2008 results. The states with a Democratic tilt of at least 1 percent total up to 257 electoral votes.

In other words, it’s a wash.

And this is key:

4. The “horse race” metaphor has its limits. Take this from the guy who used to write the Horse Race Blog: The concept of a horse race does not capture the idea of voter psychology very well at this point. Roughly 85 percent or so of the electorate is locked in – though they may not be admitting it to pollsters – while the final 15 percent has barely started the decision-making process. So, the idea that Obama has a “lead” in the polls is really a non sequitur. The gettable voters are not yet engaged, so there really is no race going on at the moment

The fight is for the 15% and they’re not even really paying attention yet.  My guess is the 15% probably have a preference, but can be swayed.  But for the most part, the majority of the electorate is already engaged (and again, this is one reason WI has national implications).

Finally, favorability.  Obama supporters like to point to his favorability rating vs. Romney.  That’s pretty much useless as Morris Fiorna explains:

Over all, in the 13 elections between 1952 and 2000, Republican candidates won four of the six in which they had higher personal ratings than the Democrats, while Democratic candidates lost four of the seven elections in which they had higher ratings than the Republicans. Not much evidence of a big likability effect here. In most elections, however, the electorate did not give a large personal edge to either candidate. In four elections they did.

So it is a very mixed bag concerning favorability or likeability.  The most pertinent recent example:

Jimmy Carter’s 1980 job approval was flirting with lows established by Harry S. Truman, Nixon and later, George W. Bush, but the electorate rated Carter’s personal qualities as the highest of the Democratic candidates between 1952 and 2000. The same electorate rated Ronald Reagan as the lowest of the Republican candidates. The Ronald Reagan of October 1980 was not the Reagan of “morning again in America” in 1984, let alone the beloved focus of national mourning in 2004. Many Americans saw the 1980 Reagan as uninformed, reckless, and given to gaffes and wild claims. But despite their misgivings about Reagan, and their view that Carter was a peach of a guy personally, voters opted against four more years of Carter.

Fiorna sums it up this way:

“Voters didn’t like my personality” is a loser’s excuse.

As the campaigns progress, we’re likely to hear how Obama’s favorability rating is higher than Romney’s and that such a rating is “significant”.  Don’t buy into that.  It is likely not that significant at all. 

In summary, if the candidate is under 50% in a state in which registered voters are polled, he’s not as strong (or weak) as the polling might indicate.  If the poll is of registered voters, take it with a grain of salt.  All states are in play and the fight is for the uncommitted 15%.

Favorability?  Disregard.  It’s about job performance. (That said, here’s POLITICO trying to make something of Obama’s favorability rating).

Hopefully this will help you navigate the worth of the umpteen polls you’ll have thrown your way in the next few months.  You should be able to quickly get their measure and then just as quickly figure out if the media has any idea of what it is talking about. 

Most likely you’ll find they don’t.  But then, that shouldn’t particularly surprise you, should it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO