Saturday, November 06, 2004

No Nick, you got it wrong...

It's hard to believe that in today's Times op-ed seciton (an excellent example of why we who are moderate and left of center pin a "right of center" label on the Times) I find more to agree with in David Brooks' column than Kristof's.

Let's go to Brooks first:

Every election year, we in the commentariat come up with a story line to explain the result, and the story line has to have two features. First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them.

Now with the exception of the last phrase which is quite offensive (can you imagine the howls if we painted religious conservatives that way?), Brooks is actually right here: the media has these set narratives for any contingency (as Kristof's mediocre piece below shows). If the Dems had won, there's be a parallel story line for Repubs.

It's true that Bush did get a few more evangelicals to vote Republican, but Kohut, whose final poll nailed the election result dead-on, reminds us that public opinion on gay issues over all has been moving leftward over the years. Majorities oppose gay marriage, but in the exit polls Tuesday, 25 percent of the voters supported gay marriage and 35 percent of voters supported civil unions. There is a big middle on gay rights issues, as there is on most social issues.

Much of the misinterpretation of this election derives from a poorly worded question in the exit polls. When asked about the issue that most influenced their vote, voters were given the option of saying "moral values." But that phrase can mean anything - or nothing. Who doesn't vote on moral values? If you ask an inept question, you get a misleading result.

True again. Now the only thing I really have to quibble about Brooks' article is that in my opinion, the jury is actually out on whether the election was stolen or not. If, as is has been reported, that the deviation of exit polls from "reported" results is substantially greater (i.e., consistently outside the confidence interval) in at least some states where electronic voting was used, this does indeed seem to be the very textbook definition of "probable cause" to investigate whether the election was stolen. Now I would have to go through the numbers myself, but if this happened even in one state, this would be probable cause, IMO. But, much, much more information is needed, IMO.

Now on to Kristof: I am awestruck by the mediocrity of this article.

Let me just say this: No dummy. The Repubs and Communists actually wrote the playbook here: It is possible to get the heartland to support people who don't suport them by getting the heartland to believe otherwise.

There is, for example, not a shred of evidence (Tom Daschle is the perfect example!) that "compromising" with Republicans gets any kinds of votes at all.

As I've been saying, you've got to change the narrative on the ground in the heartland. That's where the opportunity is.

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