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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, May 26, 2003

New Math At The NY Times

Adam Clymer gets successive front page stories with features on the future of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Democratic Party is presented as in a state of near-death. However, with just slightly different circumstances, we could be discussing a party united behind Al Gore in the White House which controlled the Senate and was poised to re-claim the House. Perhaps the NY Times is just doing their own direct-mail solicitation here. The impact of McCain-Feingold deserves more emphasis (and a mention of the Times role is its passage would be interesting). Also, the changing ethnic mix of America, which may favor the Democrats, could have gotten more ink.

Anyway, as to the New Math - Mr. Clymer tells us this:

There are two major elements of the Democrats' message problem. One is defensive — on the issue of security. The public strongly prefers Republicans on national defense, and even though most Democrats in Congress backed the war on Iraq, at least a third of the rank and file was unhappy with it, which makes it difficult for party leaders to get too far out in front.

Emphasis added. Now, since no one at the Times does any fact-checking, let's make it a fair contest. Rather than look it up, I will first give you the benefit of my sieve-like memory, and guess that last October Senate Democrats backed the Iraqi war resolution 27-21, while in the House 60% of Dems opposed it. I will further note, upon reflection, that prior to the election there were 50 Democratic Senators, plus Jeffords, so my memory has dropped two Senators. [Only two?!]

The envelope, please.

Senate Democrats supported the resolution 29-21, so I did OK. In the House, 126 Democrats opposed it, out of how 208, which is 60%, a memorably round number. Let's figure the split at 126-82. Now, if I remember this, how could a professional political reporter at the Times get it wrong?

Adding the two groups together, we get (29+82) supporting the resolution, and (21+126) opposing it. Somehow, 111 Congressional supporters and 147 Congressional opponents becomes, in the world of the NY Times, "most Democrats in Congress". I am not sure how they explain that.

UPDATE: You have not seen this argument before - Dems are doomed in 2004 because they can't play poker.

Alternative Rep and Dem links.

UPDATE: TAPPED offers its own gloomy assessment of Dem problems.

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