Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Halperin and The Note Catch MSM Uber-Strategy

Mark Halperin
and his scurvy crew at the ABC Washington Note are right on the money about the MSM's Mighty Wurlitzer [Old Media, Drive-By Media, Dinosaur Media] and the RNC's last minute rush to turn the tide. Read it all because this is straight from the bowels of the liberal cabal's brain-trust [pardon the metaphor, but I think the liberal brain resides largely in his bowels, just prior to excretion]:
The Note's First Principles of the 2006 midterm elections, all of which are well known to the commander in chief:

1. All that matters substantively and politically is who controls the House and Senate come January.

2. The overall national climate is fantastic for Democrats, who will gain seats in both the House and the Senate, and might not lose a single incumbent.

3. On the current trajectory, most Republican and Democratic strategists agree, Democrats will take control of the House, and end up with 48, 49, 50, 51, or 52 Senate seats.

4. There are no network/AP exit polls that allow the projection of House races.

5. This election has to a large extent been nationalized, which favors Democrats over Republicans.

6. President Bush's insistence on being prominent in the closing days of the election will reinforce the national nature of the contests, but, he hopes, nationalize them more around national security and taxes than around Iraq — even when he talks about Iraq!!

7. All indications are that there will be no pre-election Foley revelations, ethics committee leaks, or ethics committee report that will stoke the page scandal to the detriment of either side.

8. Uttering the phrase "have you seen Drudge?" is not necessarily the only way to cover political news in America.

9. Despite the national climate — as reflected in national public polls and most district and state private polls — Republicans have a lot of fight left in them.

If you want to follow the subtle shifts, if you host your own conservative radio show, and/or if you blog in your pajamas, you need to start your day looking at the little wisps out there that might — just might — mean Republicans can keep from being completely massacred (while still losing seats).

A. The flaps over the RNC ad attacking Harold Ford and the Michael J. Fox ad are a three-fer for the Republicans:

1. They get the national debate focused away from Iraq. Every day for the next two weeks that the network news says the election is about ANYTHING but Iraq is a good day for George W. Bush's party. (Now: why President Bush plans to use a press conference to put Iraq front and center is beyond The Note — and, we would say, beyond the many Senate and House candidates of the president's party. Note to Paul Begala: the POTUS must be putting nation ahead of politics, right?)

2. They give Republicans some sense of hope that their negative messaging might finally break through and define Democratic candidates as liberal and unacceptable.

3. They produce an Old Media reaction (pro-stem cell research, pro-Fox, pro-Hollywood, pro-Ford) that Republicans can use to go to the base and say, "Don't let the Old Media steal this election!"

B. Read the fine print on the national and state polls carefully. Who is being surveyed? Registered voters? Likely voters? Who does the pollster think a "likely voter" is? Will more Democrats or Republicans turn out to vote? Ask yourself: who is more likely to turn out: a committed conservative (who hates abortion, loves guns, and thinks Nancy Pelosi is an advanced scout for Hillary Clinton) or an independent who doesn't like the war in Iraq? (Michael Barone, thinking along these lines, crunches the numbers and suggests a bare Democratic majority is coming in the House — but perhaps not one that will be clear on election night, or one that will necessarily produce a Speaker Pelosi. LINK

C. Read Jackie Calmes' Wall Street Journal story for a portrait of faithful Lori Viars and Jim Winters, Ohio Republican activists who do not want to let George W. Bush down. (and read it for a closing paragraph that will rally the anti-Old Media GOP base even more.) LINK

D. Dan Bartlett's clever stagecraft is creating impressions through devices such as this Wall Street Journal lede: "With few military options left to counter the violence across Iraq, top U.S. officials are shifting more of the onus onto Baghdad's beleagured political leaders to broker compromises they hope might stem the rising bloodshed." Not the "American troops heading home by the thousands" that Republican candidates had hoped and assumed they would see before Election Day, but better politically than the status quo.

E. As the Wall Street Journal hints this morning, the next two weeks are going to see major corporate spending by the pharmaceutical industry and other interests who have a Roveian sense of the stakes involved. Spending tens of millions of dollars now can potentially save these companies hundreds of millions — maybe billions — down the road.

F. As the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times polls in key Senate races suggest, Republicans continue to have some white male/religious conservatives/rural mojo.

G. In the space of one Dana Milbank column, Charlie Cook goes from saying he would be "surprised" if Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) can "survive," to BlackBerrying that "Montana is closing more than thought . . . Burns might not be dead yet."

H. The Washington Post makes clear today that polls suggest — counter to the CW — that Democrats are in fact not necessarily more energized than Republicans.

"In the most recent poll, 29 percent of self-identified conservatives said they plan to vote for Democrats for the House, compared with 17 percent in 2004. Among white evangelical Protestants, 30 percent favor Democrats, compared with 25 percent two years ago. At the same time, Republicans report being as enthusiastic as Democrats about voting this year, belying the assumption that they might stay home."

And then there is what could happen in New Jersey today. If the state Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage, it might not dominate the network news and big papers for the next two weeks, but it will become a key part of the targeting message operation of the RNC and its allies in nearly every competitive race in the country. Even Blue states and districts have plenty of anti-gay-marriage voters.

The decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to be issued at 3:00 pm ET today. The decision is expected to be the last of Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz's 10-year career, she is stepping down due to an age limit.

What a way to step down, as it were! Sounds like that excretion metaphor is applicable just one more time for Judge Debbie's last product on the bench [as it were].

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