New York Times columnist Tom Friedman (11/9/11) went to India in order to appreciate how the grassroots movement to stamp out political corruption there is superior to Occupy Wall Street. Still, he sees a common thread: The world's two biggest democracies, India and the United States, are going through remarkably similar bouts of introspection. Both countries are witnessing grassroots movements against corruption and excess. The difference is that Indians are protesting what is illegal–a system requiring bribes at every level of governance to get anything done. And Americans are protesting what is legal–a system of Supreme Court-sanctioned bribery in the […]
Richard Engel on NBC Nightly News (10/21/11), speaking about the end of the Iraq War: The training wheels off, Iraq will have to succeed or fail without American troops on the ground to guide the way. That's quite a metaphor–invading and occupying a country for eight years as "training wheels." Engel's report includes this reference to the death toll: Iraqi deaths, almost 150,000, but many Iraqis believe it's a million. Of course it's not just Iraqis who believe this–the British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB), which has worked for the BBC, the British Conservative Party and the International Republican […]
The New York Times has a fascinating new poll out today (10/26/11); too bad the paper doesn't emphasize the most newsworthy findings. The headline is: New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government That's based on the poll's finding that the public doesn't have much faith in government. But paragraph four offers a more striking finding: With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object […]
With all the chatter about the inevitability of Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination, it might be useful to recall the last time the media were sending the same message about an early favorite, at least according to the national polls: Democratic Nomination Preferences Oct. 4-7, 2007 Gallup Poll Candidate % Support Hillary Clinton 47 Barack Obama 26 John Edwards 11 Bill Richardson 4 Joe Biden 2 Dennis Kucinich 1 Chris Dodd 1 Mike Gravel * Other 1 No opinion 5
The new Time poll that found the public more favorably inclined towards Occupy Wall Street protesters than the Tea Party has been making the rounds. From the magazine's write-up of the poll: A new Time/ABT SRBI poll finds 54 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the new protest movement, despite the images of bearded and shirtless youth playing bongo drums, rolling cigarettes and painting their bodies in Zuccotti Park. Huh. Perhaps when the public looks at a protest movement, it pays more attention to substance than the media, who aremore focused onlocating shirtless bongo players.
Leave it to the New York Times (10/7/11) to find a guy collecting unemployment who opposes the extension of unemployment benefits. He's "Dan Tolleson, a researcher and writer with a Ph.D. in politics…whose last good job was working for a group that aims to replace the income tax with a national sales tax." But don't think reporter Shaila Dewan picked some unrepresentative oddball to highlight just to make a political point about "how divisive the question has become of providing a bigger safety net to the long-term jobless." Oh no–quite the contrary: Even among those struggling to find work, Mr. […]
There is little reason to care about what the polls say right now about who's leading in the Republican presidential nomination. But the media obviously think otherwise, hence this headline in the Washington Post yesterday (8/25/11): Romney Loses GOP Front-Runner Status The "news" is that Rick Perry is leading in a new Gallup Poll. But read a little further: The survey showed Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 13 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) slipping to 10 percent. No other candidate registered in the double digits. So this means Paul's in the "top tier" now, right? This is a good […]
I noticed a few stories in today's USA Today (6/13/11) about supposed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. There will be plenty more of this to come–horserace commentary based on polling that's being done in order to give journalists a reason to talk about one candidate more than another, which candidate has "momentum" and so on. It's worth remembering that the polling at this stage of the race is useless. Actually, it's probably worse than that, since the political press corps obsesses over this trivia at the expense of doing any actually useful reporting about the candidates. I wanted to find a […]
Today the Drudge Report (4/26/11) screams: SHOCK POLL: ONLY 38% SAY OBAMA 'DEFINITELY' BORN IN USA The all-caps headline links to a USA Today story that quotes that 38 percent figure, courtesy of a new Gallup poll. For the record, the poll also asked respondents the same question about Donald Trump. Forty-three percent say they are definitely sure he was born in the United States.
Washington Post reporter Dan Balz (4/10/11) presents the Obama/GOP budget deal asevidence that the White House wasmerelyrespondingto public opinion: Most important was showing the country that he could make Washington work. "Like any worthwhile agreement, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them," he said. At the same time, knowing that the public also favors reduced spending, Obama pointed to the size of the cuts in the new agreement while noting that his priorities had been preserved. The budget, he said, would "invest in our future." Balz also notes that "the […]
In a mostly informative "news analysis" ("Ohio's Anti-Union Law Is Tougher Than Wisconsin's," New York Times, 4/1/11) comparing new anti-union laws that restrict collective bargaining rights in Ohio and Wisconsin, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Steven Greenhouse seems at one point to adopt the framing and language of anti-labor politicians and pundits: Moreover, at a time of huge budget deficits and of Republican dominance in many states, including states like Ohio and Wisconsin where unions once had swaggering power, the pendulum has swung toward the taxpayer instead of the government workers paid by the taxpayer. Pitting "swaggering" unionized […]
The new Washington Post/ABC poll is on the front page of the paper today (3/15/11): Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. The Post's write-up includes a lot of strange language about the political situation for the White House: "a growing challenge for President Obama,""a difficult political challenge,""an awkward issue for the president." A more direct way of putting it would be to say thatObama's war policy is massively unpopular. A broader point: No matter how […]
"Teachers Wonder, Why the Heapings of Scorn?" is the headline of a front-page New York Times piece today (3/3/11). The article by Trip Gabriel reports, "Education experts say teachers have rarely been the targets of such scorn from politicians and voters." Politicians, sure, but what's the evidence that voters–i.e., the public–have been heaping scorn on teachers? Gabriel offers nothing to substantiate this claim other than references to "online comments and placards of counterdemonstrators"–quoting blog commenters as evidence of the national mood has got to stop, guys–and the assertion that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's teacher-bashing has made him a "national […]