by Adam | As I mentioned in part 1, the media has a strong incentive to create issues where McCain seems to "beat" Obama, because this helps create the impression that McCain and Obama are locked in a tight race, despite strong evidence otherwise. In this second part, I will take a look at another issue where the media narrative seems to run opposite to the facts on the ground: how unified each party is.
The dominant narrative when it comes to party unity is how Obama must struggle greatly if he wants to get the support of Hillary Clinton's 18 million supporters from the primary. We are regularly subjected to stories about how Obama has struggled to "close the deal" with the white working class voters, or with women, or older voters, or latinos, or any other demographic where Hillary Clinton out-performed Barack Obama in the primaries. Meanwhile, it's more or less assumed that McCain has his party behind him; the only talk of McCain "shoring up his base" comes in the form of VP speculation.
The problem with this narrative is that it is not accurate. A recent California poll showed Clinton supporters breaking 80% to 8% for Obama, which was actually a better result than Obama pulled for Democrats in general. Moreover, broader nationwide surveys suggest pretty clearly that Democrats as a whole are far more excited about their candidate than Republicans. The most damning numbers there are the percentages that are very/fairly satisfied with their candidate. Democrats are sitting at 74%, an alltime high for the Pew poll (compare to 63% for Kerry and 67% for Gore 4 and 8 years ago). Meanwhile, Republicans are at 49%, their lowest since Bush senior and far below Dubya's 73% and 75% levels in 2000 and 2004.
Simply put, it is McCain, the pseudo-environmentalist, amnesty-supporting, stem-cell research backing, tax flip-flopper, who is having trouble getting enthusiastic support from his base. Not to mention the third of Republicans who want to get out of Iraq. But this story doesn't get very much coverage, at least partially because it underlines how utterly screwed McCain looks in this election. And that story doesn't sell papers the way a tight race does.
This is not to say that they're aren't PUMAs out there who strongly oppose senator Obama's candidacy. There certainly are. My point is that they are, historically speaking, a relatively small slice of the Democratic electorate. The reason they get a lot of media exposure is that it helps the media tell the story they want to tell.