Monday, October 30, 2006

Playing Hardball without all the facts

I was watching Hardball this past Friday when the discussion on that program inevitably turned to discussion of the Tennessee Senate race. One of the panelists, commenting on how effective negative ads have supposedly been, said "Corker has gone from being nine points down to pulling nearly dead even." At that moment I became convinced of the reality that much of the press or pundits outside of Tennessee (or at least outside the South) has utterly no idea what is happening on the ground here, or else they would not make such rediculously misleading statements on the air.

At no time in this race has either candidate enjoyed a lead that high. Since the end of the August Primary, neither candidate has enjoyed a lead higher than six points in any poll, and the aggregate of all polls has never shown any candidate ahead by more than two points. Knowing all of this, it makes you question what planet these folks are on, or at least what country they are from. What have they misreported about races in other States on programs like Hardball?

As much influence as the blogosphere has on political organization on all sides of the political spectrum, we know that the majority of people who will vote on November 7th do not read blogs-yet. (I think they will in time as internet access continues to improve. It is already improving and the organizational abilities of the blogosphere are just beginning to be realized.) Since they don't, it is reasonable to assume that the average voter does not regularly peruse websites such as RealClearPolitics, Electoral Vote, or the National Journal to give them some idea of what is going on. The point is that if a program like Hardball gets it wrong and misreports even a former poll, it could encourage some voters from either side to stay home.

In saying this, I am not speaking as a Republican or a Democrat, but as a concerned citizen who has never missed an election. It has become clear to me that a lot of the journalists and pundits that are based in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, try as they may to give us all good information, often fail to do their research when it comes to what the "real" numbers are or what internal factors might decide a given race in certain States. Here is a suggestion to Chris Matthews: When talking about some of these Senate or Governors' races around the country, how about bringing in some local reporters or even campaign volunteers who can give you some idea of what is happening live on the ground?

If accuracy is the goal, shouldn't the national political talk shows try to paint the most accurate picture possible?



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