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  • Mark Halperin, Wrong Again -- and John King tries to explain away his own employer's poll

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Time's Halperin says McCain won the debate handily, giving him an A- to Obama's B.

    Halperin on McCain: "During the first half of the debate, showed off the best of himself -- dedicated, sincere, patriotic, cheery, earnest, commanding--all without seeming old or anxious. Even scored some points in the 'change' category, against the candidate who has owned the theme. ... if a majority of persuadable voters watched the debate, they saw why McCain's advisers have faith in him and still believe he can win this race."

    Halperin on Obama: "During the first half of the debate, too often displayed his worst traits--petty, aloof, imperious--and behaved as if he had someplace better to be, although he became warmer and more engaged as the evening progressed. Did not seem to have an explicit strategy; instead, he answered the questions piecemeal as they came his way, without driving a message or even a theme. Retained his consistently unflappable air, and had a few fine moments. If he was sitting on his lead, it worked - but perhaps at the expense of relinquishing part of it."

    CNN's poll of debate viewers found that 58 percent thought Obama won; only 31 percent thought McCain won. 66 percent thought Obama expressed his views more clearly; only 25 percent thought McCain did. 56 percent said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader; only 39 percent said McCain. 70 percent said Obama was more likable; only 22 percent said McCain.

    CBS polled uncommitted viewers, and found that by a 53-22 margin, they thought Obama won.

    UPDATE: CNN's John King keeps trying to spin away CNN's poll, saying he's very skeptical because viewers skewed Democratic. But Campbell Brown has detailed the exact breakdown several times, with John King sitting right there. 40 percent of debate watchers were Democrats, 30 percent were Republicans, 30 percent were independents. If that skews in favor of the Democrats in comparison to the general electorate, it does so only slightly -- nowhere near enough to explain away, as King keeps trying to do, the huge margins by which debate viewers preferred Obama.

    UPDATE 2: Further undermining King's skepticism: CNN's poll found 57 percent of independents who watched the debate thought Obama won; only 31 percent thought McCain won.

    UPDATE 3: Nate Silver: King is "a little bit out of line in critiquing his own poll, which he's said is skewed toward Democrats (the sample was something like D40, R30). It's skewed toward Democrats because America is skewed toward Democrats! The party ID split in the country right now is very close to 40/30."

  • Politico's Jonathan Martin overly impressed with Matt Drudge

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Live blogging the debate, Martin claims "Joe the Plumber" is now famous because McCain picked up his story from the Drudge Report.

    ""Joe the plumber" can thank "Matt theInternetist" for his instant fame," wrote Martin, who noted "McCain first used this anecdote in his economic speech yesterday."

    The trouble with Martin's Drudge worship is that The Drudge Report didn't highlight "Joe the Plumber" until day, after McCain started talking about him.

  • Schieffer's Test

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC's Mark Murray says Bob Schieffer would be "out of touch" if he brings up Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright during tonight's debate:

    "I imagine that this debate will be solely about the economy and probably some other domestic issues. You mentioned whether Bob Schieffer or even John McCain might bring up Bill Ayers or even Rev. Wright. But as you look at hte stock market right now where it's actually gone down more than 400 points, it would seem to be a little out of touch to ask something like that."

    If Schieffer does bring up Ayers or Wright, and doesn't also ask John McCain why he is "proud" of a his "old friend" Gordon Liddy -- a convicted felon who plotted the murder of a journalist and who has urged people to shoot law enforcement personnel -- Schieffer's objectivity will a real question.

    And this wouldn't be the first time. Schieffer moderated one of the 2004 debates, despite the fact that he is a longtime friend of George W. Bush who had previously acknowledged that his personal relationship with Bush made it difficult to cover him. Schieffer's brother was a business partner of Bush's before Bush became president -- and Bush made him an ambassador.

  • The press and the Bradley effect

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Boy, the flow of these stories has become a torrent. The latest comes from abcnews.com: "Will the Bradley Effect Be Obama's Downfall?"

    To us, the stories have the same ring as the McCain "comeback" narrative, and that the press seems more interested in injecting some missing drama into the campaign (Obama could still lose!), than advancing real news stories.

    The problem, as illustrated by the ABC story, is that despite the breathless headlines, there's very little that's news to substantiate the Bradley effect narrative, which is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, who he ran for California governor in 1982 and lost, despite pre-Election Day polls showing him with a comfortable lead. The theory was that voters mislead pollsters about whether they would vote for a minority candidate.

    The issue is a legitimate one for debate and discussion. It's just that in terms of the press presenting it as a burning news issue right now, there were few if any examples of The Bradley effect during the very long primary season. Polling pro's say there hasn't been a clear example of the Bradley effect in decades. And the Obama campaign claims the notion is absurd:

    "I think this is a completely overblown story," said Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, saying concerns about hidden racism skewing polling data are "ridiculous."

    Yet the press won't stop writing about it. And worse, journalists claim they're not the ones obsessed [emphasis added]:

    Despite the lack of empirical evidence, the Bradley effect lives on, fueling anxiety and nervousness among many Democrats that Obama's lead will disappear on Election Day.

  • Fox News continues its ACORN-mania

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Updating our earlier tally, since Friday, Fox News had mentioned the community organizing group at least 556 times, according to TVeyes.com.

    Let's put that in perspective and help illustrate just how obsessively over-the-top the Fox News coverage has become.

    *Number of times CNN has mentioned ACORN since Friday: 67

    *Number of times Fox News has mentioned Joe Biden since Friday: 130

    *Number of times Fox News has mentioned Sarah Palin since Friday: 541

    *Number of times Fox News has mentioned ACORN since Friday: 556

  • The David Brooks contradication, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Does Times columnist Brooks regret telling the media swells at Le Cirque last week that Sarah Palin represents a "cancer" on the Republican Party and that she was clearly unqualified to be VP?

    As Greg Mitchell notes today, readers of the Times have no idea because Brooks still has not addressed or explained the comments; comments that appear to contradict what he has written about Palin in the Times.

    As we detailed here, it's an embarrassment for the Times to have one of its most prominent political columnists pulling his punches in print and not leveling with his readers. What else has Brooks written for the Times that may or may not believe?

  • What is voter fraud?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The relatively straight-forward question seems to be alluding lots or reporters this week. Especially ones employed by Rupert Murdoch.

    In a lengthy media analysis, the Brad Blog looks at how conservatives online are whipping themselves into a frenzy over a story that may be less than what it appears:

    Those who wish to believe in the hoax, however, attempt to link to article after article about allegations of voter fraud carried out by ACORN. And yet, the articles themselves


    if one bothers to actually read them

    reveal that either 1) They describe allegations and investigations brought by Republican agents, with little or no evidence of any wrong doing, and certainly no "voter fraud" 2) Where voter registration fraud has occurred it has been by rogue ACORN employees, originally reported to authorities by ACORN themselves (who are the actual victims of any such fraud by their employees), or 3) Smoke and mirrors are used to cloud the fact that not a single fraudulent vote has actually been cast by anyone.