What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 12, 2009

Fact-Checking Ruth Ann Dailey

A quick Fact-Check (as I am running late this morning) on Ruth Ann Dailey's column today. She writes:
The best way to do so is to keep the focus strictly on the issues. Exit polling released just before New Year's Day and easily overlooked in the left's post-election euphoria showed that despite voters' support for Mr. Obama, they feared the possible results of Democratic Party hegemony.

Target Point Consulting's in-depth poll of 1,000 voters sought to determine why they voted the way they did. As reported by the Wall Street Journal's Political Diary, there was plenty of bad news for Republicans: Voters faulted them for the bad economy, the prolonged war in Iraq, a too-strident position on immigration, and bailouts for big corporations.

Asked what they "liked least about the Democrats," the most common responses volunteered by poll respondents were "taxes going up," "big government," "liberal," "raise spending" and even "socialism."
And who is this "Target Point Consulting?

Glad you asked. From "Clients" page at their website, we can see this graphic:

Any guess who pays for Target Consulting's consulting? That is to say, any guess who Target Point Consulting consults for?

Don't you think Ruth Ann should have at least mentioned this? It's a Republican Consulting firm.

If there's any doubt as to which side of the fence Target Point Consulting sits, there's this from the Washington Post of 2004:
In a $2.2 billion election, two relatively small expenditures by Bush and his allies stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision.
There's more (much more) to write about her column, but I am running late and just don't have the time.


Clyde Wynant said...

Over the years, your average citizen has come to believe that pollsters are, by and large, a non-partisan lot. But that is anything but reality. Just like political consultants, who they work hand and glove with, most pollsters are partisans. They work for one side of the other. Hence, as noted here, they skew their Q & A to get the result they want. Then it gets picked up by lightweight losers like RAD and passed along as "fact."

The "fact" of the matter is that the entire consultant-pollster-journalist mashup is a very well coordinated machine. I don't mean that in the sense that they have a secret handshake (though they might...) but in the sense that they all understand how it's supposed to work....and they each play their role.

And, as we know, that role is not to inform, but rather, to press their very skewed view of reality.

EdHeath said...

Good catch on the nature of the polling firm Dailey cites as a source of "unbiased" information. There are numerous variables, including how they define likely voters (if they do) and what is the exact wording of the questions they ask. Of course, the first poll she cites is at least ten months old, before Obama took office. The second she cited was "an August poll", meaning it could be anywhere from one to two months old. And the midterms are over a year away and the next Presidential race is over three years away.

But the entirety of her column is, to me, an example of how conservatives are failing as an intellectual movement. Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, for heaven’s sake. I mean, I myself think the award is premature, but I also think that discussing how to criticize Obama for winning and accepting it is simply beyond the pale. But Ruth Ann does something else interesting here, too, she essentially links Republican politicians, conservative pundits and what she calls entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh or Mark Steyn by discussing what each group should appropriately do as a response. That implies that Limbaugh, and Hannity, Beck, Quinn, Steyn and others are part of the conservative movement, and we can hold all conservatives responsible for anything any of them say. And by the way, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are not on Comedy Central the way Jon Stewart is, they are on Fox News. If they want to be entertainers, they should tell people not to take them seriously. Instead Glenn Beck “entertains” us by hounding a White House aide from his job.

One last thought, Ruth Ann states that the Norwegian Nobel committee awarding the peace prize to Obama is “tantamount to foreign meddling in American policy-making”. This is a statement ludicrous on its face, and also very insulting to the Nobel awards. Regardless of whether you think Obama was a poor choice or not, the award is an honor and nothing else. It is not a conspiracy or a practical joke. Of course it will have little to no effect on American politics unless “entertainers” like Limbaugh, Beck and Dailey are able to twist the meaning of the award and poison its meaning. Another example of reasonable, thoughtful conservatives.