Media declare McCain "tied for third" in Iowa, but by standard applied to Dems, he came in fourth

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Following the January 3 Iowa caucuses, several media outlets, including the Associated Press, the New York Daily News, National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Newsday, Fox News' The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum, Fox News' America's Pulse, and the Chicago Tribune, reported that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) "tied for third" with former Sen. Fred Thompson (TN). But if those outlets had applied the same standard they apparently used in reporting the Democratic caucus results, McCain would have come in fourth.

According to the Republican Party of Iowa, McCain received 15,559 votes, or 13.11 percent of the overall vote in the Iowa Republican caucuses, while Thompson received 15,904 votes, or 13.40 percent of the overall vote, a difference of 0.29 percentage points. The Democratic Party of Iowa does not report raw totals of caucus-goers who voted for each candidate -- unlike the Iowa Republican Party -- instead, it reports percentages of "state delegate equivalents," the estimated percentage of delegates to the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention each candidate will receive. According to the official results, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) received 29.47 percent of "state delegate equivalents," finishing third, 0.28 percentage points below second place, and each of these news outlets reported that Clinton came in third.

While CNN.com has estimated that McCain will have an equal number of Iowa delegates to the national Republican convention (as opposed to the state convention) as Thompson, and that Clinton is second in the number of estimated pledged Iowa delegates to the national Democratic convention (again as opposed to the state convention), neither party has yet selected any delegates to their national conventions. Neither the official Iowa Republican Party results page nor the official Democratic Party results page estimates how many delegates to the national convention each candidate will receive.

From a January 4 AP report, "Republicans refocus efforts," by Glen Johnson:

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson finished Iowa tied for third with McCain, who largely skipped the caucus campaign, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished fifth but vowed to remain in the race.

From a January 4 AP report, "Clinton unbowed by third-place finish," by Beth Fouhy:

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, claiming to be unbowed by a third-place finish in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, hailed a "great night for Democrats" and said the strong turnout pointed to the sure election of a Democratic president in November. She said she would "keep pushing as hard as we can."

From a January 4 New York Daily News article, "Huckabee clobbers Romney in Iowa," by Celeste Katz and David Saltonstall:

Mike Huckabee, the former long-shot-preacher-turned- conservative-darling, ran away with the Republican Iowa caucus last night -- dealing a critical blow to rival Mitt Romney.

With 86% of precincts reporting, Huckabee wielded a substantial 34% to 25% lead over Romney, while former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Arizona Sen. John McCain were tied for third at 13% each.

The thrice-married, pro-choice Rudy Giuliani -- who pulled out of conservative Iowa early -- was trailing in sixth place at a dismal 3%, behind even the anti-tax, pro-pot libertarian Ron Paul at 10%.

From a January 4 New York Daily News article, "Barack Obama wins the Iowa caucuses over Hillary Clinton, John Edwards," by Michael McAuliff, Michael Saul, and Jo Piazza:

Clinton, the former First Lady who once looked ready to coast to a coronation, limped in a narrow third behind populist former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

That means 70% of Democrats turned down the chance to restore the Clintons to the White House.

From the January 4 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:

MARA LIASSON (national political correspondent): Clinton, who finished third, called Obama to congratulate him, but she wasn't conceding the nomination -- not at all.

[...]

LIASSON: The Republican race now moves to New Hampshire, where Huckabee has next to no organization, but where Romney faces a strong challenge from John McCain, who tied for third place in Iowa with Fred Thompson. Ron Paul finished fifth and Rudy Giuliani sixth.

From the January 4 Newsday article, "Huckabee sweeps Iowa in big upset GOP victory," by Tom Brune and Letta Tayler:

Following Huckabee, Romney won 25 percent, Fred Thompson and McCain tied for third with 13 percent, Ron Paul won 10 percent and Giuliani won just 4 percent.

From the January 4 Newsday article, "Obama rocks the political world," by Glenn Thrush:

Barack Obama rocked the political world with a decisive victory in yesterday's Iowa caucus -- with Hillary Rodham Clinton finishing in third place fractionally behind John Edwards, a staggering blow to a candidate once viewed as her party's inevitable choice.

From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Live Desk with Martha MacCallum:

MARTHA MacCALLUM (co-anchor): All right, let me bring in [Fox producer] Malini Bawa, who's been traveling with the McCain campaign. Malini, welcome, I know you're on the phone from New Hampshire. You know, what was his mood like? How is he holding up? What's he using -- what's he eating and drinking to fuel his way along here?

BAWA: Well, his mood is definitely upbeat. You know, he was tied for third in Iowa, and Mitt Romney is, you know, [inaudible] -- well, maybe that's not the greatest position to be in, but McCain just -- since the beginning of December -- was fifth, sixth, single digit numbers in some of the polls, and here he is, tied for third with a team that didn't really spend much time or money in Iowa, so he's very happy with that. He's very happy with the way things look for him in New Hampshire. He was very, very upbeat riding over here to this event on the bus this morning and he said he's dedicated to the proposition that he's going to have a lot of fun for the next four or five days here in New Hampshire.

[...]

MacCALLUM: As we were just telling you, Senator John McCain is among the candidates who is back in New Hampshire today; his campaign energized after coming in third in the Iowa caucus last night, where he had not spent all that much time campaigning really.

From the January 4 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse:

BRIGITTE QUINN (co-anchor): Hillary Clinton is hoping now to bounce back after coming in third behind Barack Obama and John Edwards in Iowa. She's dumping her usual speeches and taking questions on the campaign trail with just four days to go before the crucial New Hampshire primary.

From the January 4 Chicago Tribune article, "Huckabee wins conservative test," by Rick Pearson:

Romney, who in the final days sought to cast himself as an underdog in the contest, said, "I've been pleased that I've been able to make up ground and I intend to keep making up ground, not just here but across the country." Still, the defeat was a serious blow for Romney.

In addition to giving Huckabee a win that could translate into the fundraising dollars necessary to project viability on a national scale, the caucus results provided an opening for a surging John McCain in New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday.

With 93 percent of the state's 1,781 Republican precincts counted, Huckabee had 34 percent compared with Romney's 25 percent. McCain, an Arizona senator, and Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, were tied for third with about 13 percent.

From the January 4 Chicago Tribune article, "Obama, Huckabee strike first with Iowa victories," by Christi Parsons and John McCormick:

Hillary Clinton

Her third-place finish, just behind John Edwards, pierces her inevitability.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, New York Daily News, Associated Press, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Newsday
Show/Publication
Morning Edition, The Live Desk
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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