Tag Archive for framing

The Iowa Caucuses: Do They Actually Mean Anything?

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So, it’s the day after the Iowa caucuses. The first votes in the 2012 presidential nominating contest have been cast, and we’ve seen some results that are surprising, some not. What do we now know, and what have we learned?

Well, at this point what we know is easy to see. Mitt Romney won the Republican caucuses by a mere eight votes, in a statistical tie with Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania US Senator who will soon undoubtedly be dubbed “the Comeback Kid” by some blogosphere pundit somewhere. In an unexpectedly strong second place, Ron Paul more than doubled his 2008 caucus vote count and demonstrated his dominance in the constituencies of young and first-time caucus voters – groups that are far less likely to vote in big state primaries. So it is likely that the news media will continue to frame Paul as an iconoclastic also-ran with little chance of winning the nomination (as they still focus more attention on Newt Gingrich, who trailed in an embarrassing fourth place)… with the end result for public opinion that Paul will be an iconoclastic also-ran with little chance of winning the nomination.

The booby prize for the most precipitous fall from glory is a bit harder to determine: is it Michelle Bachmann, who went from Ames straw poll winner to near-last-place cellar dweller (beating only John Huntsman, who didn’t seriously compete, and two former candidates who are out of the running), who dropped out of the race today? Or is it Newt Gingrich, who saw his meteoric rise to front-runner status after the downfall of Herman Cain (prompting no small amount of front-runner braggadocio) melt away in the face of an attack ad blitzkrieg? In any event, less clear is how these results affect Rick Perry, who rapidly moved from “suspending the campaign” back to “here we come, South Carolina!” faster than the scrolling news ticker on the bottom of a cable TV news screen.

That’s what we know (and what we don’t). But what have we learned from Tuesday? As Alice observed, the GOP nominating contest becomes “curiouser and curiouser.” The lessons?

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Ron Paul, Media Framing Victim?

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So, the big news coming out of Iowa over the weekend was a new poll that puts Newt Gingrich as the frontrunner in the GOP nomination race for the caucuses, which will be held January 3rd, with Mitt Romney dropping to third place.  A key element to this story is Romney’s “slide” into third place.  What doesn’t seem to be discussed: the surge of iconoclastic GOP candidate Ron Paul in the face of declines by Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

My friend Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics provides another insightful media content analysis that reveals a key part of Paul’s inability to capitalize on this good fortune. Check this out… if I were Paul’s camp, I’d be furious:

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Change Is… Obama’s New Tactic

President Obama has begun using a variation on his "Change" slogan, "Change Is..."

President Obama has begun using a variation on his "Change" slogan, "Change Is..."

Recently President Obama has rolled out his new campaign tagline, “Change Is…”  Obama is making an attempt to answer questions from the opposite side of the political spectrum.  Many conservatives have been known to ask “Where is the Change?”  This is a trend that began very shortly after President Obama took office.  It will be very interesting to see how much traction the new “Change Is” approach will get and if it will catch on with supporters and later with the wider electorate.  An example of Obama’s new tactic comes across much more pro-active than previous mentions of his own record, “Change is the decision we made to rescue the auto company from collapse, even when some politicians were saying we should let Detroit go bankrupt.”  Instead of running from actions and decisions that seemed absolutely necessary when being undertaken, he is pointing out how bold they may be considered.

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Romney vs. Not-Romney

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Today’s Talking Points Memo reports on a Campaign 2012 phenomenon that the Denizens have recently commented on: the persistent competition between Mitt Romney and “Not Romney.” Here’s the guts of Eric Kleefeld’s take on the poolling in key early primary and caucus states, which depict Romney’s stagnation amidst an ebb and flow of Not-Romneys:

As has been noted many times, the Republican contest has gone through a cycle of one candidate or another gaining a sudden, massive amount of support against Romney, only to collapse after a combination of blunders and media scrutiny — see Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. The big question, then, is whether any candidate will be able to put up a stable anti-Romney front, or if the competition are too flawed, and Romney can take it by default. (Newt Gingrich, you’re now up at bat.) And if Herman Cain should now drop out of the race — he suggested on Tuesday he was ‘reassessing’ things — that could mean a sudden turn to a much rougher road for Romney. The numbers suggest Gingrich would be much more the beneficiary of a Cain departure than Romney.

So what do we make of this situation?

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Cain’s Collapse: Was No One His Brother’s Keeper?

Herman Cain's campaign has gone much further than intended and controversy will help it sink.

Herman Cain’s meteoric rise and fall in the GOP presidential nomination race will be a subject of sustained inquiry for some time. Chris Cillizza does some early prognosticating for the Washington Post over who is likely to benefit if and when (likely when) Cain withdraws in the wake of the Ginger White extramarital affair story that broke Monday.

But some larger questions require some attention, beyond the inevitable “he said / she said” and the “how does this affect the horse race?” chat. We ought to consider how a Herman Cain candidacy got as far as it did, given its unconventional candidate and campaign approach.

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Obama’s “God-less” Thanksgiving Address

TDS Godless Thanksgiving

Ever the intrepid media watchdog, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show made note of President Obama’s online Thanksgiving video address, as well as the reaction from FOX News:

 

Some brief thoughts:

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Why Polls are for Nerds… Usually.

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OK, Point 1 on why polls are for nerds, at least usually: it’s the day after Thanksgiving, I read a Washington Post blog article on some recent polling from the Tarrance Group for Politico and George Washington University that I think has limited usefulness at best, and I proceed to start writing about it immediately. That’s nerdy.

But while there is much we can learn from public opinion polls, especially in politics, it’s important to keep them in perspective — particularly the perspective of media framing and institutional norms of journalism that are usually all but allergic to a long view.

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