This graphic, from yesterday’s NY Times, caught my eye. I don’t know if it appeared online, but here’s the print version. It’s an excellent reflection of the struggle between how establishment outfits like the NY Times wish the GOP primary looked, and how it’s actually going (click for larger image).
See that headline? “The outlook for leading Republicans in early primary states.” Did you notice a candidate there who you hadn’t realized was a “leading Republican”?
That’s right, there’s Jon Huntsman. The Republican who isn’t quite as crazy as the rest of them. The one who worked in the Obama administration, who believes in evolution, and who trusts scientists on global warming. The one, in short, who folks like those who work at the NY Times undoubtedly wish would be the nominee.
Now, let’s check in on what is actually happening among GOP voters. This is from the collection of recent polls at RealClearPolitics.
Huntsman is dead last. Dead last. He’s barely worth even mentioning in articles about the GOP primaries; he cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to be a “leading” candidate for the Republican nomination.
And did you notice something else peculiar about the NYT graphic? Down at the bottom, it mentions “other candidates,” and it lists two: Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Now, Santorum is doing nearly as badly as Huntsman. His positions are largely indistinguishable from those of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Cain, but he lacks the charisma of any of those candidates. He is going nowhere, and there’s no point in talking about him. Why would you mention him, instead of, say, Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich, both of whom have occasionally polled better than 5%?
Ron Paul, on the other hand, has consistent polled among the top four declared candidates, and in some surveys comes in third. If anyone deserves that fourth slot in the big “leading Republicans” graphic, it’s clearly Paul. And yet, the best the NY Times can do is a grudging mention of him as an “other candidate,” despite his decent showing in the polls and his proven ability to raise money. What’s up with that?
This seems to me an excellent example of a major media operation trying to shape the news instead of just reporting it. Huntsman is going nowhere, despite what the NY Times obviously wishes would happen. Ron Paul remains a significant factor in the race, even though Serious People like those who work at the Times seem to think he’s a crank who generates a lot of enthusiasm from those kooky libertarians but who really should just pipe down and let Other Serious People handle things.
And don’t get me started on the debate invitations.