COMMENTS: The Importance of Being Wright

As for analysis, all three networks had their Sunday morning anchors examine the exit polls. All three zeroed in on the statistic that roughly half the primary electorate stated that Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's longtime pastor, was important in casting their vote and half found him unimportant. So what? "Whether that was the way Obama handled the situation or the negative things that they interpreted Wright as saying, we do not know," confessed Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press. Bob Schieffer (no link) of CBS' Face the Nation pointed out that "nearly all the voters who thought it was important in Indiana were white voters"--but then again, an overwhelming majority, 81%, of Indiana's entire primary electorate was white. George Stephanopoulos (no link) of ABC's This Week noted that most who thought Wright important voted for Rodham Clinton; most who thought him unimportant voted for Obama--and then jumped to the hasty conclusion that "what you thought about the importance of the Rev Wright basically determined your vote." Clearly, the contrary is just as plausible: which candidate you happen to support determines how much importance you attach to the Rev Wright.

A couple of other interesting tidbits on trends arose from the exit polls. ABC's Stephanopoulos pointed out that fewer voters in North Carolina and Indiana than in previous contests made their decision on how to vote in the final week: "A lot of these votes have been burned in early." And Jeff Greenfield (no link) on CBS found that Democrats are becoming increasingly polarized as the primary contest grinds on. Compared with Super Tuesday in early February, fewer of each candidate's supporters would be satisfied if the other candidate prevailed.


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