COMMENTS: How the Newscasts Preview the Political Future

Confronted with so much loose talk about voter anger, CBS anchor Katie Couric decided to convene a series of focus groups to sample the vox pop of jus' folks. Her American Voices traveled to Ohio to sample the fallout from unemployment, to Pennsylvania to gauge the mood of independent swing voters, and to Massachusetts to listen to once-enthusiastic twentysomethings on campus. "Hope is fading. Frustration is growing. Everyone is saying these midterm elections are about anger. Are you angry?"

Well, not so much…"concerned"…"these things happen"…"I would not say the wrong direction," Couric was told in Ohio. "I am not out for revenge"…"I am out for solutions"…"I want results," they volunteered in Pennsylvania. There the independents called for partisans to put the people first and do what is best for their country. What about the Tea Party? "Another voice from the fringe"…"absolutely terrorizing"…"the Inflammatory Party." NBC political director Chuck Todd consulted his network's polling one last time and found a different set of voices from those Couric convened. He found rigid ideologues (57%) more popular than cross-partisan compromisers (34%): "We are going to have a very polarized Congress. The Democratic caucus is getting more liberal; the Republican caucus getting more conservative."

"The returns are not even in yet and Democrats are looking for explanations as to why things have gone so wrong," reported ABC's Jake Tapper as he summarized their premature blame game. He picked up on three contradictory theories: Democrats did not have the guts to be proud of their accomplishments; they ran on a record full of base-pleasing liberal causes instead of a focus on unemployment; corporate special interests had excessive influence with third-party spending on campaign ads.

Unfortunately Tapper offered no analysis as to which mix of those theories hits the nail on the head.


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