« Bush Sinking in New Hampshire | Main | Implication of the FMA in Pennsylvania »

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Time to Adopt the NYT's Elisabeth Rosenthal

Posted by DavidNYC

There's a favorable story in the NYT today about people who voted for Bush in 2000 but are having second thoughts now. It's more about swing voters than about swing states, per se. But Elisabeth Rosenthal, the author, is reporting from Ohio, and includes plenty of quotes from Ohioans, so I figure it falls within this site's purview.

Anyhow, I wouldn't get too excited about her piece. Typical for a story like this, it relies overwhelmingly on anecdotal evidence. Maybe reporters feel this sort of junk is more interesting than serious number-crunching - or maybe they're just too innumerate to care.

Though Rosenthal does cite a couple of polls, she doesn't compare them to past data, so we have no good way of knowing how to interpret them. Apparently, 11% of people who voted Bush in 2000 said they'll support a Democrat this time around, while 5% of Gore voters said they'll back Bush this year. On the face of it, of course, this looks bad for Dubya - if the exact same people vote in 2004 as voted in 2000. But obviously many factors affect turnout. I'd like to see similar numbers for Clinton, Reagan and Bush p��re before drawing any firm conclusions.

She also notes that the same poll showed that 56% of independents disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy. When I cite polls like this, I do my best to show previous numbers - and, like a good blogger, I always provide a link to the poll. Rosenthal can't do that latter (well, she could, but it's just not Standard Timesian Procedure), but she could at least do the former. I want to know the delta - or, to be more blunt about it, I want to know how bad Bush has been bleeding.

Lastly, she lets Bush flack Matt Dowd off the hook a bit too easily. According to Rosenthal, Dowd claims that polls say that Bush has the support of 90% of Republicans. That's nice - but is it enough? Does Bush need 95% of Republican to win? Maybe he can do it with 80%. But who knows, because Rosenthal certainly hasn't told us. She could at least look up what Bush's GOP support was back in 2000. Without the appropriate context, it's just a number floating in the ether.

Anyhow, if you aren't familiar with the budding "adopt-a-journalist" movement, I suggest checking out a few of the "watcher" blogs. For the most part, each of these blogs is devoted to tracking and deconstructing the work of a single reporter. My favorite is The Wilgoren Watch, but a whole bunch have sprung up. Given that Rosenthal is reporting on the national presidential campaign, I think she's a prime subject.

Posted at 05:25 PM in General | Technorati