A year ago the media meme was the “horse race.” Whatever the Obama Campaign did, the McCain folks were sure to counter it. Day after day we got this completely distorted picture on our Globe front pages. This year it’s the “Elections mean Obama is in trouble” meme.
As Susan Collins writes:
Although there is no way to deny that New Jersey and Virginia were terrible, horrible, disastrous, cataclysmic blows to Obama’s prestige. …How could the man have gotten any sleep after he realized that his lukewarm support of an inept candidate whose most notable claim to fame was experience in hog castration was not enough to ensure a Democratic victory in Virginia?
But for Susan Milligan dire messages are being sent. “”Congress had better do something about the economy, or sitting lawmakers will lose their jobs in 2010.” She promises to explore the theme that “the election sent a message that was deeper than those conveyed by short-term, partisan talking points.” She then strings together nine short-term partisan talking points. She refers to unspecified exit polls showing that “between 85 and 89 percent of voters in Virginia and New Jersey said that they were worried about the direction of the economy in the next year, and the Republican candidates won a majority of those voters in both states.” The logic is impeccable. But recent polls (such as this one from, of all places, Fox News, show a very different picture:
Asked which president is “more responsible for the current state of the economy,” only 18 percent say President Obama. Fifty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush. Nine percent blame both of them. Republicans are the only subgroup of voters who blame Obama, and only by a six-point margin of 35 percent to 29 percent.
As Susan Collins notes:
We have a dramatic saga story line brewing here, and I do not want to mess it up by pointing out that Obama’s party won the only two elections that actually had anything to do with the president’s agenda. Those were the special Congressional races in California and upstate New York. But obviously they reflect only a very narrow voter sentiment, since one involved a district that was safe for the Democrats and the other a district that had not been represented by the party since 1872.
In sum, Susan Milligan’s “analysis” is really poor stuff. It’s not analysis in any meaningful sense. But look for lots more like in on the Globe front page in the weeks to come as the old media go round and round on the “Obama in trouble” message. It’s like watching a lazy Susan.