Live from New Hampshire: National media prove they’re completely out of touch

Matt Towery's picture

We finally have conclusive evidence that the national TV networks are completely out of touch with reality. Let me share with you exactly how a series of events led to their inevitable conclusion that Barack Obama was a cinch to win the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, which he didn’t. Hillary Clinton won.

Watching some of the broadcast anchors waiting for election returns Tuesday night from quaint New Hampshire university towns was a scream. Their wishful thinking — and broadcasting — that Obama might somehow come storming from behind to rescue their polling and their pundits was so obvious that even the water-cooler gang at their offices were laughing Wednesday morning.

The real story of this media farce starts in Iowa. Thankfully, our firm, InsiderAdvantage, was one of a handful of national pollsters that had in our final polls both Democrat Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee winning their respective races in Iowa.

Most of the major cable news networks got the races wrong in both states. What’s even more interesting is that they’re usually more accurate than they have been over the past week in Iowa and New Hampshire.

What happened to them was what I call the Des Moines Register effect. The Iowa newspaper conducted its own poll of that state’s caucuses, and the D.C. Beltway folks decided to crown it as the definitive poll in Iowa.

In my view, they should have said it was the definitive vote-persuader in Iowa.

Since most pollsters in Iowa didn’t ask the critical question of who Democratic poll respondents would select as their second choice if their first choice didn’t win at least 15 percent support on the first “ballot,” these pollsters didn’t have the benefit of seeing what we saw the night after the Register’s poll was released: That Obama suddenly had a large lead where he hadn’t before that influential poll came out.

These “second choice” voters, who up until then had been planning to vote for John Edwards, “mysteriously” started to drift in a big way towards Obama.

When the Register declared along with their poll release that a huge percentage of political independents were going to participate in the Democratic caucuses so that they could help Obama, the poll became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember that in a state as small as Iowa, a pronouncement of such a startling shift in momentum can charge up voters overnight. Our tracking poll provided ample evidence of exactly that.

And so Obama Fever hit. Some reporters told colleagues that they had a hard time covering Obama because he was so charismatic and refreshing that they couldn’t help but like him. And the writing of Hillary Clinton’s obituary commenced.

What everyone forgot is that New Hampshire is not Iowa. New Hampshire voters love to do two things. First, they love to vote contrary to traditional wisdom. Second, they love to play games with pollsters. That’s why when it comes to polling, we stay as far away from New Hampshire as we can.

The fact is the D.C. media establishment has become as out of touch as the D.C. political establishment. Both probably still don’t realize that the economy has become the big concern of voters.

Their “inside baseball” analysis sounds plain silly. Consider Carl Bernstein’s comment that, basically, Hillary Clinton’s win in New Hampshire meant that she was running the campaign now, not Bill.

Give me a break. It doesn’t take a political whiz to know that Hillary’s recent teary moment and Bill’s argument that Obama is a fantasy candidate being treated with velvet gloves by the media, were both deliberate strategies right out of the mastermind of one William Jefferson Clinton, the smartest Democratic campaign strategist alive.

And as for the Republicans, one analyst stated that John McCain won in New Hampshire because he was early on considered the national Republican front-runner, and Republicans always nominate the front-runner.

Sure thing. Tell that to the Ronald Reagan campaign of yesteryear.

In the coming days, this caravan of outdated and under-informed media elites will be rolling through places like South Carolina and Florida. Because these states have more subtly nuanced demographics than any states up to now in the presidential season — such as race for the Democrats and moderates versus religious conservatives for the Republicans — we will have a chance for some real entertainment.

But it will likely be some time before these media dukes and duchesses ever learn to let go of their own biases long enough to get proper exposure to the real world — even after they witnessed it firsthand Tuesday night in New Hampshire.


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