On Wednesday, Michael Barone said that a Democrat takeover of the House is the likelihood, but not a certainty. I don’t think those in the media, and even some of my friends on the right, are convinced that is the case. Quite a few seem convinced that a GOP defeat is certain and are now predicting just how many seats will be lost. It may be an old-fashioned concept, but I think it would be nice to let people vote first.
I realize that polls show Democrats with a decided edge, but the only polls that count are the ones taken on Election Day, and I am not talking about the exit polls that were so wrong in 2004. I am talking about the poll taken in the voting booth.
Those ready to throw in the towel based on opinion polls should remember that opinion polls do not always accurately predict what people will actually do at the polls on Election Day. A blogger at Ankle Biting Pundits did an analysis of the most recent New York Times poll and the stories reporting it and found that “the “news” stories provide no context about the poll demographics, nor do the polls accurately reflect who is actually going to show up on Election Day.” He found that “in the NYT poll, 23% of respondents aren’t even eligible to vote. And of those 77% that are registered, a full 37% didn’t vote in the last mid-term election, and an additional 13% don’t remember if they voted then.“ Over half of the respondents either did not vote or can’t remember voting in 2002!
If the polls do prove correct, though, I will see a Democrat win as a huge media victory and I am not ready to see the media rewarded for their lousy performance over the past year.
For the past year or more those in the media have heralded dire predictions about the fate of Republican candidates. Those stories of doom and gloom for the GOP were not just reports of what polls were showing, those stories played a role in shaping voter opinion. When news organizations run hundreds, if not thousands, of stories the year leading up to an election about how the winners and losers have already been decided, it affects public opinion. Voters begin to see certain candidates as the winners and others as the losers. Many voters do not cast their votes based on the issues, but rather on an overall impression of the candidate. If a candidate looks like a loser, that candidate is going to suffer in the polls.
Another way the media has influenced this election is with their disgraceful reporting on the economy. In a time when almost every economic indicator is up, the stock market has hit all time record highs, and gas prices have dropped dramatically, some polls show that a majority sees the economy as weak and believes President Bush has not done a good job managing the economy. That is almost impossible to believe in light of the state of the economy, but the media rarely reports any good economic news without including some doom-and-gloom dire predictions about the future of the economy, something they almost never did during the Clinton years. The media has done a horrible job reporting the state of the Bush economy.
The most despicable way the media have helped Democrats the past year is through their reporting on Iraq and the war on terror. When violence in Iraq picked up this month, just before the election, it was often reported in the context of what bad news it was for Republicans, but rarely if ever was it reported in the context of that being a strategy employed by terrorists to influence the elections. American news outlets played right along with the terrorists’ plan. In one extreme case, CNN even aired a terrorist propaganda snuff film.
Another way the media offered their assistance to Democrats is in the way they chose to cover candidates with scandals or cases of “foot-in-mouth disease.” Foley got weeks of attention, even though he had resigned and was no longer a candidate, but some Democrats running in the midst of scandals, who decided not to resign, received very little attention. George Allen’s “macaca” statement received ridiculously extensive coverage in national newspapers.
Democrats have offered no positive plan for America and without the assistance of an all too-willing-to-oblige media I believe they would be behind in the polls. The media can move the polls, but they can’t drag anyone’s bottom out the door to vote. Regardless of how the polls say people intend to vote, it doesn’t count unless those voters expend the energy to cast that vote at their polling place.
Voters still hold the power to determine the outcome of the election and in many, many races, as Scott Elliott of Election Projection reminds me, the margins are razor thin. In these final days leading up to the election, don’t let those in the media decide who is going to win or lose. Make that decision for yourself by casting your vote and by helping to “get out the vote” of others. Volunteer for your local candidate or party, or use online tools such as the excellent one provided at the RNC website that allows volunteers to make GOTV calls from home. Don’t stop working until the final vote is counted, because the outcome really is in your hands.