Accuracy in Media

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put on some “impressive performances” in her time in Congress, but her poll numbers nationally have remained alarmingly low because of attacks by conservative media, according to a story Thursday on Vox.

The piece – “Conservative media’s war on AOC is hammering her poll numbers;” subhead: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s national poll numbers are pretty bad, and conservative media attacks appear to be a key reason why,” – by Zach Beauchamp, opens with the grim totals.

A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found 23 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Ocasio-Cortez, compared to 36 percent who had an unfavorable view. The rest did not know enough about her to form an opinion.

Beauchamp pointed to three prior polls – in January by Morning Consult, in February from Fox and in mid-March from Gallup – that also found her approval ratings low.

“This might surprise a lot of Democrats, who see all her viral clips and impressive performances in congressional hearings and assume she’s a rising star,” he wrote.

The “impressive performances” line was hot-linked to a story about Ocasio-Cortez’s bizarre questioning of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, in which she asked where the committee might go for more information on matters such as who might know about various stories that did or did not run in National Enquirer and how developers go about lowering their tax bills by appealing valuations, a common practice.

“So what’s going on here?” Beauchamp asked. “Ocasio-Cortez herself has a preferred explanation – that she’s been vilified on Fox News and in other conservative outlets, and they’ve driven her national approval rating down. If this theory is right, then you’d expect her negative favorable to be driven almost entirely by Republicans detesting her and everyone else not being as familiar with her.

“And that appears to be exactly what is happening.”

It’s not that she has threatened to recruit primary opponents for Democrats not sufficiently socialist for her taste. It’s not that she has proposed a massive government takeover of the energy and construction industries that could cost as much as $94 trillion in the first decade – the entire U.S. federal budget now is less than $5 trillion – and that could not garner a single vote in the U.S. Senate.

Or that early drafts of the deal called for people to be paid with taxpayer dollars if they are “unable or unwilling to work” and that all jobs should be unionized.

Or another bizarre line of questioning when she tried to get a Wells Fargo Bank executive to admit responsibility for a spill on a pipeline that had not even opened.

It’s that Republicans won’t give her a chance, Beauchamp wrote. Among Democrats, 47 percent view her favorable, 7 percent unfavorably and 44 percent don’t know enough about her to make a difference. Among Republicans, all but 23 percent know enough about her to form an opinion, and 74 percent view her unfavorably and just 2 percent view her favorably.

“There are number of reasons why this could be the case,” Beauchamp wrote. “Her overall political message is pretty polarizing, and it’s not surprising that this would turn off Republicans especially. But disproportionate attention to her in conservative media seems to be a major part of the story.”

A more likely explanation is Republicans have paid better attention to her policy proposals and realize the threat they pose to the U.S. economy. Beauchamp points to the fact she has been mentioned more on Fox News than Democrat presidential candidates, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

But Warren and Sanders largely have stuck to their scripts in terms of policy. It has been Ocasio-Cortez who has proposed measures that pose the most serious threat.

“It’s astonishing that a Democratic backbencher could get this much attention and get so famous at the beginning of her first term,” Beauchamp wrote. “It’s a testament to how much of phenomenon she is on the Democratic left – and how much the right seems to both hate and fear her.”

Or that she has the most disturbing policies.

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