Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Hampshire 2008 & The Pundits

Well, the pundits are trying to explain what went wrong with their predictions. Unfortunately, they don't understand why they were wrong because they are incapable of learning.

For the most part, they blame the mistake on the polls and the pollsters. One common explanation is that White voters lied about voting for a Black man (the so-called Bradley effect after the mayor of L.A.). See: the pundits aren't responsible for the voters' hidden racism. Dyson, even after hearing a report that the polls were right about Obama's percentage (thus negating any Bradley effect) and the problem was under-counting Clinton's support, insisted that there was racism. According to him, you could hear it in Hillary's comments & Bill Clinton's attack on Obama: that Black men aren't capable of doing the job. (So we can't criticize Obama for anything because any criticism has to contain at least a seed of racism?) Besides there's never been a Black President. Ahem.... there's never been a female President either.

Then they mine the exit polls for explanations, things they didn't see before. There isn't much, except the large turnout of women and the percentage of women who voted for Hillary. So, what do the pundits conclude? It was the "tearing up" moment which showed that Hillary had a human side. It is already the standard explanation. Pundits stick together. Original thought is not encouraged. On CNN, however, one woman made the astute and, I think, accurate assessment that women saw the endless replay of the moment and got mad. Did this assessment cause Wolf Blitzer to reconsider? Of course not: he repeated once again (as if the woman had never said what she said) that it was the humanity of the moment.

Some of the "outstanding" pundit moments:
1.) Tim Russert was beside himself with joy that 5 days into the primary campaign,they still didn't know who the winner would be. Imagine that: 5 whole days, 1 caucus & 1 primary and they couldn't crown a nominee in either party. Horrors.

2.) Tom Brokaw said "we don't have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process". Chris Matthews' response: well, what would we talk about? Unfortunately, Brokaw didn't seem to expect that response and, to my ears, kind of fumbled for an answer.

Gee, do you think the media might study the voting records of the candidates? Hillary's been in the Senate 6 years, Obama 2 (plus 8 in Illinois), Edwards also has a Senate record. Maybe they could interview legislators & community people who have worked with the candidates. How about an analysis of pork (the money kind) proposed by the candidates. Richardson has held many roles in government that I suspect most voters, like me, know absolutely nothing about.

3.) Joe Scarborough accurately suggested that it was due to the media savaging of Hillary - in which he was one of the primary figures. Did he acknowledge that he was one of those savagers? Don't be silly. Of course, not.

4.) The hyperbolic descriptions: greatest upset in American history, blow-out, etc., etc. But look at the numbers. Hillary beat Obama by 3%, in one primary. That's not a massive victory.

5.) The Comeback kids. Please. Hillary lost Iowa, the first test. She won NH. I fail to see how that qualifies as some overwhelming return from the dead. Maybe it is fair to apply it to McCain since he had not only been written off but had to fire almost his entire staff for lack of money. But there are a total of what? 40 primaries to come? When a baseball, basketball or football team wins one game after losing one game, do we call that a comeback? It apparently has never occurred to these cretins that the lead might, gosh, actually change hands several times before a winner appears.

6.) Kristol, the latest star on what used to be the Op Ed page of a great newspaper. Hillary's tears were fake, women felt sorry for her and voted for her. This is sooooo offensive on so many levels, it leaves one speechless.

7.) Pundits never learn. Within an hour of admitting they had goofed, I started hearing pronouncements that Obama HAD to win Nevada. And predictions for South Carolina were running hot & heavy within minutes. Geez. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

Dan Abrams, not one of my favorite news personalities by far, provided the most original (for the media) explanation and one that resonates with me, as a Californian: that it was wrong for the media to call the primary season over after one caucus and one primary. He said it was the equivalent of ending a trial after the opening statement.

I can't prove it, but I think women voters decided that they didn't want anybody to be crowned King by the pundits - and they had finally had enough of the endless misogyny of the attacks on Hillary (even on Air America( - so they voted for the person the media had written off.