October 4, 2012

Dispatch’s Latest Ohio Poll Really Shows Obama-Romney Tie

Overweighted with Democrats and seriously unrepresentative.

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This post went up yesterday at Watchdog.org with a different title and slight revisions.

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On Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch published the results of its latest mail poll purporting to show that Democratic Party incumbent Barack Obama has a nine-point, 51 percent to 42 percent lead in Ohio over Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

The paper claims that:

  • “(The) poll echoes four others that show Romney behind by at least five points in Ohio.”
  • “[I]t appears the former Massachusetts governor (Romney) first must turn around his own campaign.”
  • “A surge of Democratic support for Obama has transformed the race since the first Dispatch Poll had the two dead-even at 45 percent just before the Republican National Convention in late August.”

The only thing that has “surged” is the Dispatch’s disingenuousness in describing the results of its own polls. Meanwhile, there is an important factor apparently affecting nearly all surveys which pollsters are choosing to completely ignore at their serious peril.

Reporter Darrell Rowland didn’t name all of the other polls showing a five-point or more Obama lead, citing only the Washington Post and Fox News. One poll Rowland conveniently forgot to note came from Gravis Marketing covering September 21-22. Despite weighting the poll with 41.4 percent Democrats and 31.1 percent Republicans, it showed Obama barely clinging to a 0.9-point lead.

The poll the Dispatch conducted a month ago has far more validity. Rowland himself told us why:

In August, almost exactly the same number of Democrats and Republicans responded to the Dispatch Poll. But after the mail-poll ballots went out this time to registered Ohio voters chosen exactly the same way — at random by a computer — more Democrats returned the poll forms than did Republicans. The breakdown: 43 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican.

In other words, eight points of the nine-point swing from the Dispatch’s dead heat in August is due to the change in party makeup of its late-September sample. Though it’s difficult to peg exactly, Ohioans’ party preference breakdown is more than likely somewhere between the four-point Republican edge Rasmussen found in early September and the four-point Democratic edge Gallup reported in late September. In other words, the most defensible conclusion one can reach right now is that the Buckeye State’s presidential race is in a statistical dead heat.

A May Pew Research report cited an important reason why the credibility of political polls should be questioned as never before. As briefly summarized by blogger “Zombieat PJ Media on the same day as the Dispatch poll’s release: “Out of every seven people contacted by pollsters, only one will answer the polling question, while the remaining six refuse to answer.” And before getting to that point, one must recognize that pollsters aren’t even able to make contact with 38 percent of those they attempt to reach — up from only 10 percent in 1997.

Pew reported that, when all is said and done, “the response rate of a typical telephone survey was 36 percent in 1997 and is just 9 percent today.” It was 21 percent just six years ago. Since the 2008 presidential race, the poll completion rate has probably dropped by almost half, from an interpolated 17 percent to its current 9 percent. Based on this information, it seems extremely dangerous to believe, as pollsters clearly must, that there is little difference between the views of the tiny remaining minority who complete their surveys and the over nine-tenths of the population who either won’t talk with them, can’t or won’t complete the surveys after trying to get through them, or cannot even be contacted in the first place. A perfect storm of pollster embarrassment may be in the works.

Though the Dispatch’s survey was done by mail, Pew further asserts that “The general decline in response rates is evident across nearly all types of surveys, in the United States and abroad.” It’s hard to believe that the surveys done by Columbus’s only daily newspaper are exempt from this trend. No one should take its latest production as presumptively reflective of where Ohioans really stand.

Unemployment Claims (100412): 367K SA, Up 8K From Last Week’s Original 359K (Up 4K After Last Week’s Revised 363K); Raw Number of Claims Under 300K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:13 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 367,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 363,000. The 4-week moving average was 375,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised average.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 298,743 in the week ending September 29, a decrease of 4,942 from the previous week. There were 332,394 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Last week’s original 359,000 was (of course) revised up by 4,000.

Business Insider’s email had a Bloomberg-driven prediction of 370K for today’s number, which will be almost exactly correct after next week’s inevitable upward revision.

This year’s seasonal adjustment factor (81.5) was lower than last year’s for the comparable week (82.6). If this year’s raw claims had been seasonalized with last year’s number, claims would have come in at 362,000.

Today’s news certainly isn’t any kind of trajectory-changer. Economic mediocrity still reigns.

Stop the Presses: Lawrence O’Donnell Tells Politico ‘I Liked the Job Jim Lehrer Did’

As Matt Vespa at NewsBusters noted earlier this morning, MSNBC’s Howard Fineman was extremely unhappy with Jim Lehrer’s performance as moderator in last night’s first presidential debate. Vespa reports that Fineman “seemed agitated to the point of calling Lehrer ‘useless’ and equated his moderating of the debate to ‘criminal negligence.’”

In what may be seen as a surprise, the same network’s Laurence O’Donnell didn’t share that sentiment, as Mackenzie Weinger reported this morning at the Politico’s “On Media” perch:

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Fraudulent ‘Fact Checks’ and Preemptive Narratives

 Today’s press would make the Soviet-era Pravda and Izvestia proud.

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On the morning before the Media Research Center’s 25th Anniversary Gala, which yours truly was privileged to attend Thursday, it occurred to me that the news-originating press has added a second new tactic, preemptive narratives, to its “reelect Barack Obama at all costs” playbook.

The first new tactic is cited in an unprecedented and badly needed letter MRC head Brent Bozell and over 20 other conservative leaders, commentators and media personalities sent to ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, the four Obama-worshipping alphabet networks, on September 25. The signers accurately accused the recipients of “rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome.”

Those who dismiss the letter signers’ complaints could not be more wrong.

To be sure, the first seven of the eight establishment press tactics cited in the letter, a few of which include “painting conservative ideas as extreme,” “submerging the truly horrendous economic conditions” (but only in Democratic administrations), and double standards in reporting on candidates’ mistakes and gaffes, have been around virtually since the dawn of television. One would have thought that things couldn’t get any worse with these and the rest of the letter’s first seven identified offenses than they were in 2008; but the press, particularly the named TV networks and their cable cousins, have ramped them up to news level in 2012.

The letter’s eighth identified tactic, the wide-ranging employment of “journalist”-authored, truth-challenged, narrative-driving, Democrat candidate campaign-assisting “fact checks,” is new with this presidential election cycle. The abuse of “fact checks” has become so rampant that it’s reasonable to believe that their creations are coordinated with Democrats in key campaigns to, well, rig the game.

To cite just one example, several sources with intimate knowledge of the pioneering welfare reform law of 1996 and its sixteen subsequent years of implementation have consistently expressed alarm at the administration’s recent and likely illegal policy directive allowing the use of waivers to ease the clear work requirements contained in the law:

  • On the afternoon it was released, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, who crafted the original legislation, asserted that the July 12 directive issued by the Department of Health and Human Services “guts” and “is the end of” welfare reform.
  • In early September, Mickey Kaus, a Democrat who has championed welfare reform and its results for years, reacted to more detailed analysis by Rector and others by writing that the HHS directive’s pretensive support of the work requirement is “not as big a scam as I’d thought it was. It’s a much bigger scam.”
  • On September 19, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote that “The Administration has made welfare’s work requirements far weaker, and for ideological reasons that the press corps has failed to report.”

The press has done a lot more than merely fail to report it.

Despite the overwhelming consensus of subject matter experts on the left and right, PolitiFact gave a Mitt Romney ad objecting to HHS’s move a “Pants on Fire” rating, even though the Journal insists that “It’s worse than Romney says.” PoltiFact’s Molly Moorhead, who wrote the “Pants on Fire” dispatch, cannot possibly still believe that what she wrote is true. But that isn’t what really matters in the land of leftist “journalism.” What matters is that the Obama campaign and the Pavlovian press now have carte blanche to routinely and gleefully cite her supposedly authoritative but in reality bogus “fact check” to frustrate efforts to expose what HHS has done. More generally, the real reason for the creation and proliferation of fraudulent “fact checks” is to drown out any attempt to expose serious flaws in Democratic candidates’ records and statements while dishonestly discrediting legitimate Republican and conservative actions and contentions.

Like “fact checks,” preemptive narratives pre-date this presidential cycle to a limited extent, but have been given heavy doses of steroids this time around while seriously smacking of Democratic campaign coordination. This second new tactic wasn’t in and arguably didn’t belong in the MRC letter because while the TV networks are its willing beneficiaries, its originators usually toil at the wire services. Two specific examples will illustrate its use.

On September 22, as I noted in my most recent PJ Media column, Thomas Beaumont and Charles Babington at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, despite the absence of proof and the presence of significant contradictory evidence, declared that “the advantage has shifted toward President Barack Obama” in the presidential race. During the next five days, a poll in Pennsylvania showed Romney within two points of Obama in a state the President supposedly has locked up, within one point in Ohio in a poll which sampled Democrats over Republicans by 10.3 percentage points, and still tied nationally with Rasmussen. But reality isn’t what matters. The AP pair’s narrative claiming that Obama is close to putting Romney away, which might as well have been drafted by an Obama campaign spinmeister (Who knows? Maybe it was) has driven TV and other press coverage all last week.

The Thursday morning trigger I mentioned in my opening paragraph was the arrival of two pieces of absolutely awful economic news demonstrating that the “recovery,” such as it is, has slowed from its already snail-like pace and, as James Pethokoukis wrote, entered “the recession red zone.”

In a rare third-estimate writedown, the government said that second-quarter economic growth was an annualized 1.3% instead of the already anemic 1.7% reported a month ago. After its issuance, Reuters noted that “Data in hand for the third quarter suggest little improvement.” Even more troubling, durable goods orders in August fell by 13.3% to a raw level over 30% below their April 2010 value.

That’s funny, because the previous morning, AP White House Correspondent (note: not business or economics writer) Jim Kuhnhenn incoherently claimed in another piece which appears to have Obama administration spin all over it (“Economic Trend Lines, For Now, Favoring Obama”) that economic results “are merging into a straighter line which, while below optimum performance, is moving in a positive direction for the country and for the president in his contest with Republican rival Mitt Romney.” Again, Thursday’s truth didn’t seem to matter. An AP dispatch from Christopher Rugaber that afternoon which surely drove TV news coverage that evening incorporated a relatively unimportant unemployment claims report showing decent week-to-week improvement and “suggested” that “the economy is sturdier than it might appear.” Nothing can be allowed to disturb the pre-determined, election-rigging narrative.

The Soviet Union’s old Pravda and Izvestia would be impressed at the media’s determination to have fake “fact checks” and preemptive narratives control the borders of what can be discussed between now and Election Day, all in the name of advancing the current regime’s reelection efforts. The country’s “journalists,” now serving as willing administration truth-twisting apparatchiks and campaign assistants, should be ashamed.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100412)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Paul Ryan video for Catholic voters stresses religious freedom

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Oct 4, 2012 / 02:38 am

Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan has made a special video message for Catholic voters pledging that religious liberty protections will be a “cornerstone” of a Romney-Ryan administration.

“We need a president who will support our God-given rights, not try to circumvent them,” he said in an Oct. 2 video posted to the Romney campaign website.

The video comes after nine months of controversy over the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most large employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide employees free insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

The mandate’s narrow religious exemption applies to employers who primarily employ or serve their co-religionists and would not cover Catholic charities, universities, and health systems that employ and serve the general public.

Non-exempt organizations must either comply, drop insurance coverage and face other fines, or face non-compliance fines of $100 per employee per day.

Ryan said religious liberty is “our first freedom” and there is no guarantee “more precious” than the right to free exercise of religion.

He said Catholics see faith as “more than an individual right.” Rather, faith is “a vital part of our community.”

“We celebrate the unique role our Church plays in caring for Americans of all faiths, or of no faith at all. Catholic charities and hospitals offer services that hold our society together,” he said.

Rep. Ryan charged that President Obama has “attacked these indispensible institutions since virtually the moment he took office.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

At National Journal, Ron Fournier (Formerly of AP) Offers Novel Obama Excuse: ‘Incumbent Debate Curse’

Having seen the candidate the press corps so obviously favors perform poorly while his opponent shined, Ron Fournier at National Journal, an Associated Press alum, dove so deeply into excuse-making that I half expected him to claim that the dog ate President Obama’s debate prep.

The primary culprit, according to the forlorn Fournier, is something over which Obama has no control, as seen in the following excerpt from the 11:30 p.m. version of his dispatch. The report has an accurate headline admitting to something Fournier wouldn’t directly acknowledge, namely that Romney won the night (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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