Super Tuesday: Is the Media Mystifying the Political Process?

A response to HuffPost's reporter Jason Linkins on his analysis of Super Tuesday's coverage.

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  1. After Super Tuesday, the media immediately pounced on Mitt Romney and his failure to impress even though he won Ohio and took away the majority of delegates for the night. As TIME put it,

  2. Mitt Romney failed to clinch the field-clearing victory that had once seemed plausible.
  3. Or if we were going to be a bit more dramatic, NPR described how the GOP race would indeed "go on."
  4. As they counted up the votes on Super Tuesday, you could almost hear Celine Dion singing that theme song from Titanic — the one about how her heart and the whole tragic tale would go on. And on. So it is with this year's Republican presidential contest.
  5. Ouch. If I were a presidential candidate, I know I wouldn't want my campaign to be compared to that song. But does it matter that Romney didn't pull off a landslide of a victory? A win is win, after all.

    As HuffPost reporter Jason Linkins points out in his article, After Mitt Romney Wins, Media Having Hard Time Facing Facts, everyone already understands that Mitt Romney is a historically weak frontrunner and he isn't seen as ideologically pure. So in that sense, sure, Romney is having trouble "sealing the deal." Is this really a problem during the primaries though? Not according to Linkins.
  6. Romney's "deal-sealing" problems are more worrisome in a general election, when he'll depend on being able to field an enthusiastic army of supporters to go out and get him votes. As far as the primary process is going, he's actually doing a much better job "sealing the deal" than any of his competitors.
  7. Sam Stein, another HuffPost reporter, even pointed out that Romney's weaknesses weren't the end-all-be-all.
  8. Weakness, of course, doesn't necessarily mean defeat. And the irony of Romney's bad night is that he took tangible steps towards securing the GOP presidential nomination.
  9. Instead, Linkins points out, the media loves exciting storylines. Romney is winning, but not blowing people away. The New York Times really exemplified this, its headline reading: With No Knockout Punch, a Bruising Battle Plods On.

    Still though, even in their article they describe that the real problem lies in the general elections, not the primary race.
  10. The Republican race was always destined to plod on, considering that none of the candidates have reached even half of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination. But the campaign is suddenly bracing for new questions about Mr. Romney’s ability to piece together a coalition needed to move closer to a general election fight with President Obama.
  11. So perhaps, as one blogger vented, all of the Super Tuesday drama isn't very revealing of anything.
  12. Politico’s Alexander Burns starts his where-we're-at-now summary with the following flash of nobody's-won frustration: “A Super Tuesday primary night that was supposed to bring clarity to the Republican presidential race threatened to create an even deeper muddle, as the 10 states voting across the country scattered every which way and the most important battleground, Ohio, remained too close to call.” A muddle! A mess! A mystery! “It’s not over with yet!” warns CNN’s ubiquitous Wolf Blitzer, who on nights like this is to words what all-you-can-eat buffets are to food. He says so much, and yet reveals so little.
  13. Linkins writes, "This is the sort of stuff I'm referring to when I talk about the political media's propensity for senselessly mystifying the political process." He then "desmystifies" it for us by setting the record straight:
  14. What everyone should be saying today is that we now have a race between one guy who could conceivably notch the nomination and three guys who -- acting in concert -- might be able to do enough to deny him the win by the time the primary season ends in June.
  15. Still, there is that "might" in there, and Republicans aren't exactly confident in their candidates as the Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates.

    According to the results, Romney "clocks in at a dismal 32 percent favorable score, 16 points lower than the 48 percent of independents who see him in an unfavorable light."  Then Rick Santorum is only viewed favorably by three in 10 independents. Yet, "that looks positively outstanding when compared to the 21 percent — yes, 21 percent — of independents who view former House Speaker Newt Gingrich favorably."
  16. With those kind of numbers, it's no wonder the media keeps bringing up Romney's less-than-spectacular win. Linkins may have a point though. Just because his win wasn't "field-clearing," doesn't mean it wasn't a win, and maybe that's all that matters in this GOP race.
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