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April 15, 2005

The Media Gets a Bounce

Not a bounce in their own numbers, but something more important to them: a negative bounce in Bush's. Powerline ponders how so many things can be going right for America, and therefore, on paper at least, for Bush's poll position, and hits upon as good a theory as I've seen:

[Bush's] poll numbers are down. Pundits attribute this to gas prices, the Terri Schiavo dispute, the social security debate, etc. I think the answer lies in the fact that people aren't paying much attention to politics, and thus are defaulting to the tenor of MSM spin. This hypothesis is probably impossible to test, but I rely in part on the phenomenon of the convention "bounce."

Conventions represent one of those moments when America (a) pays some attention to politics and (b) gets a much less MSM-filtered view of the world. Thus, the extent to which a party or does or does not get a convention bounce can be instructive. Last summer, the Democrats got essentially no bounce from their convention. Like others, I suggested that this was due to the fact that their message already had been widely promoted by the MSM. A few weeks later, President Bush received, as I recall, more than a 5 percentage point bounce from the Republican convention. He did not obtain this bounce on any spectacularly good news the Republicans were able to tout. He obtained it, I think, because, with a bit of reflection, people realized that on most fronts (the economy and the overall war on terror) things were going reasonably well.

Bush has an odd relationship with the polls. When Iraq began to look like the quagmire the MSM so fervently desired it to be, Bush nevertheless won an election that was largely a referendum on his decision to invade (a decision, remember, that a majority of Americans considered a mistake around the time of the election).

And with freedom advancing and the economy continuing on the mend, his poll numbers still continue to sag.

I think that the poll numbers largely reflect a general disatisfaction with the situation America finds itself in -- forced to fight a war that not even the most warmongering neocons among us really wanted to fight, if we'd had our druthers (and, of course, had the towers not been felled) -- but the public still approves, by a small majority I think, of Bush's gut in handling this difficult situation.

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posted by Ace at 11:22 AM

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