Accuracy in Media

At a recent conclave at the National Press Club, a trio of
political scientists trotting out their election forecasts were asked
what role ideology played in their predictions. A pair of them—James E. Campbell of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Emory’s Alan Abramowitz—immediately said that their political tendencies played no role whatsoever in their research.

The third member of the triad—Michael Lewis-Beck of the University of Iowa—would
not commit on the ideological question. Campbell and Abramowitz argue
that the economy is coloring poll results, calling it “the moose in the
room” that no one is talking about.

Lewis-Beck has a somewhat
different thesis. “The moose in the room was the race question,” he
told the audience at the National Press Club on October 27, 2008. For
his part, Abramowitz says, “The black candidate is an overplayed story.”

“Even without an incumbent in the race, the election is a referendum on
the incumbent,” Abramowitz said. Campbell avers that in September,
despite the Republican president’s unpopularity, “McCain was able to
run ahead in an open-seat election as a centrist,” once he secured the
Grand Old Party’s presidential nomination.

But none noted that McCain’s surge in the polls came after the
Republican National Convention where he camouflaged his more liberal
positions and named as his running mate a woman many stalwart
conservatives regard as “Reagan in a dress.” As Michelle Malkin noted in liveblogging McCain’s RNC address, his acceptance speech
contained “not a word about immigration and border security.”

“Racism is the reason for McCain’s surge in September,” Lewis-Beck
avers. He added that “There are not only racists in the Republican

“They are spread out.” He points out that in an earlier poll, “77
percent would support a black candidate while 24 percent would not.”

“Ninety percent of Republicans would support a black candidate while 10
percent would not,” Lewis-Beck claims. “It’s only going to be 52
percent for Obama because there is still a lot of racism.”

Lewis-Beck estimates a “six to seven percent race penalty” for black
candidates. What he does not mention is that his high-end racially
concerned proportion was driven up by Democratic Party primary voters.
“More than a third of all white Democrats and independents—voters Obama
can’t win the White House without—agreed with at least one negative
adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are
significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have
such views,” the Associated Press reported on September 20, 2008.

Here’s an interesting sidelight on the “racist America” question. Both Barack Obama and U. S. Rep. John Murtha,
D-Pa., have spotlighted the Keystone state as something of an epicenter
of racial bigotry, focusing on rural voters such as the ones in the
congressman’s own district. As highlighted by Michelle Malkin, Ryan Shafik from the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research shows that these supposedly unenlightened voters had no problem voting
for a black candidate over a white one in a very recent election.

Of course, in that instance, the former was a conservative Republican, Pittsburgh Steelers legend Lynn Swann,
and the latter a liberal Democrat, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a
contest in which the incumbent was ultimately victorious. “Any GOP
candidate, regardless of color, going up against Ed Rendell and his
money machine in the toxic election conditions of 2006 wouldn’t have
fared much better,” Shafik points out. “But as the evidence shows, the
areas populated by conservative whites voted for Lynn Swann.”

“It was the areas filled with moderate-to-liberal whites and large
black populations that voted overwhelmingly against Lynn Swann.”

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