Media having a little narrative problem today?

posted at 9:21 am on September 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not often that I laugh out loud while reading my e-mail (and that’s not an invitation to forward the jokes from 1996 still circulating, either), but today’s entries left me no choice.  No less than three media outlets have scoops about the Mitt Romney campaign this morning that describe changes in strategy and direction.  The only problem is that all three contradict each other despite having come from sources inside the campaign.

First, we have Politico, which insists that the campaign wants to broaden its message to include more issues and more voters:

Mitt Romney, sensing an opening in the Middle East mess and catching flak from conservatives for giving too little detail about his policy plans, is rolling out a new and broader strategy to make the election a referendum on “status quo versus change,” chief strategist Stuart Stevens told POLITICO.

The shift, which is to include much more emphasis on Romney’s policy prescriptions, means he is scrapping the most basic precept of his campaign. From the time he began contemplating running again after his loss in the 2008 primaries, Romney’s theory of the case has been a relentless and nearly exclusive focus on the listless economy.

But with polls showing Obama for the first time moving clearly ahead in important swing states— most notably, Ohio—Romney advisers concluded they had to make a painful course correction.

Stevens said the economy is likely to remain “the dominant focus” of the campaign. But ads and speeches will focus on a wider array of issues, including foreign policy, the threat from China, debt and the tone in Washington.

No, no, no, says BuzzFeed — Romney wants to focus on the base, and will talk more about family values than the economy:

Mitt Romney’s campaign has concluded that the 2012 election will not be decided by elusive, much-targeted undecided voters — but by the motivated partisans of the Republican base.

This shifting campaign calculus has produced a split in Romney’s message. His talk show interviews and big ad buys continue to offer a straightforward economic focus aimed at traditional undecided voters. But out stumping day to day is a candidate who wants to talk about patriotism and God, and who is increasingly looking to connect with the right’s intense, personal dislike for President Barack Obama.

Three Romney advisers told BuzzFeed the campaign’s top priority now is to rally conservative Republicans, in hopes that they’ll show up on Election Day, and drag their less politically-engaged friends with them. The earliest, ambiguous signal of this turn toward the party’s right was the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate, a top Romney aide said.

“This is going to be a base election, and we need them to come out to vote,” the aide said, explaining the pick.

Meanwhile, today’s Washington Post reports that both Romney and Barack Obama will focus even more on the economy:

Republican Mitt Romney, who last week struggled with his responses to a major ­foreign-policy crisis in the Middle East, will now turn his focus back to the economy with a new offensive aimed at recharging a campaign that even some allies believe he is losing.

The Obama campaign, also sobered by the violent deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya, seems willing to join Romney in a debate about the economy instead. …

Both candidates were pushed off message in the wake of the Middle East turmoil that roiled the campaign last week. Obama was forced to defend his administration’s handling of the crisis as Romney sharply criticized it. But Romney did not appear to make up any ground politically, and some Republican allies criticized him for too quickly politicizing the moment.

Romney is determined to reshape a congealing narrative that he has fallen behind Obama and will spend the next 21 /weeks before the first presidential debate articulating more concrete details of his five-step economic plan, according to campaign advisers.

So which is it?  Who knows?  My guess is that the Post gets it right on the Obama campaign, because the last issue they want to argue right now is foreign policy.  Remember two weeks ago, when Democrats insisted that Team Obama would hammer Romney on foreign policy and paint him as unready to lead?  That strategy evaporated in the Las Vegas fundraising heat last week.

For Romney’s campaign, Politico’s story probably makes the most sense, but the broadening of the message was inevitable at this stage.  We’re coming up to the three presidential debates, which start in three weeks, and two of those will have non-economic themes (although expect Romney to bring up the economy in all three).  In order to set the table for those debates, the campaign has to broaden its message now anyway.

However, the rest of this looks like media narrative-building to leave the impression that Team Romney is in disarray.  It ends up appearing more like the media’s narrative-building apparatus is in disarray.  I suspect that the Romney campaign is more or less on the message trajectory they anticipated.


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So what I’m reading here is that in the second week of September, with I’m sure more than one October surprise to come, you want Romney already to be firing?

This isn’t a case where we wear down our target. Voters will become “ad weary,” especially if they aren’t ready to be tuned in yet. Many of them are groaning at the Halloween displays in the supermarket.

The Romney/Ryan campaign is doing the rally part, buying ads but not flooding the waves yet. They are setting the base, letting people get to know them, building the narrative.

They know Obama off teleprompter still has lots of material to give them. They know the SuperPACs are hard at work.

As we get closer to Nov 6 and the Obama camp gets even more desperate that their “known quantity” can’t break 45-48%, it will get interesting. Then R&R can use their war chest for an intense, positive/negative balanced, MSM drowning final push, while the Dems self destruct.

At this point nobody would believe a drop under 8% in unemployment. At this point nothing is going to improve in the economy (see today’s manufacturing index report). The Middle East is burning.

And the smell of desperation is thick. I would love to see a straight likely voter poll. Randomly call 3000 likely voters with two questions “how likely are you to vote” and if they say “very”, then “who are you going to vote for.” No weighting, no party affiliation. I suspect without weighting Obama is getting crushed in Dem internal polling, the media doing the weighting in their polls sees this, and they have to find anything to push their boy across.

PastorJon on September 17, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Anyone who thinks that Republicans aren’t going to turn out in numbers that dwarf 2008 is an abject moron. And if you’re reading this and you’re stupid enough to believe that Republican turnout won’t dwarf 2008, then yeah…I’m calling you A MORON!

So stop guzzling down the Kool-Aid! Romney is going to win this in a blowout!

rvastar on September 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Well, I freely admit to being a moron, or rather a moronette in my case. And as a moronette, the problem I see with your scenario is that it assumes the elections will be honest.

Even with a huge Republican/conservative/ABO turnout, the Dems will pull every dirty trick in the book: hacked voting machines; dead people voting; absentee ballots “lost”; busing bums, students, and public-sector union workers to multiple polling places; vote manufacturing; big frowning guys with big sticks guarding the doors of polling places; etc., etc.

And how do we defend against that? I’m going to be a poll watcher — that’s the only thing I can think of to do — but I’m just one person in one precinct. It feels pretty lonely. Anybody else here going to be a poll watcher or poll worker? Anybody else have specific ideas to keep the “margin of fraud” down?

Mary in LA on September 17, 2012 at 5:03 PM

and about those debates, any money says they are given the questions beforehand my the leg humper media. and he’s declared the winner regardless of what happens

gsherin on September 17, 2012 at 9:28 AM

To see a party, no a culture that chafes at the thought of ethical boundaries like we’ve seen for the last 3 1/2, is it possible… could he have the audacity (don’t answer that), the insight (well inside lane), the leg up (and duly humped) to show up to the debates… with a teleprompter?
I mean really. Is it possible? Flash card answers from the moderator then. Down low, from Barry’s side of the table.
What do you think? Show of hands… hmm I’ll have to rule a 2/3′s majority on that one.

onomo on September 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM

I read that what Romney is doing with the money is GOTV activities – personal contacts, only enough TV to keep Obama counterbalanced and trying to build from the ground up – my undertsanding being that TV ads don’t have much efficacy in moving opinion – they only need to keep you in the game. Maybe a press near the end but not to follishly waste it – we say what Obama’s summer spend did – it stopped the Romney surge kind of. But the polls have only gotten more silly, with massive ID swings which aren’t going to materialize. They moved from RV to LV and jacked up the ID. Crazy.

The media has gone all in – so let’s work on the next four years being time to drive them out of business. They are losing enough money maybe the time is right.

Zomcon JEM on September 17, 2012 at 4:43 PM

What you are reading is absolutely right… The GOTV campaign by Romney is three to four time the size of McCain GOTV depending on the state.
Regarding the media polls, you are absolutely right, if these fools want to believe their own lies with polls insanely oversampling democrats so be it…

mnjg on September 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM

[So now Obama and his media are talking up the narrative of a Romney campaign that is in conflict and not working well hoping that this will work and demoralize the Republican base but like all others crap and lies they tried before, it will FAIL.]

Bingo!

I think that a lot of Romney/Republican supporters are allowing their own sense of intellectual honesty to distort their thinking about what lengths the Democrats – and when I say Democrats, that is a blanket description that includes the news media – will go to in order to do everything in their power to have Obama re-elected.

The average Romney/Republican supporter will look at the stream of polls coming out from these news outlets and organizations and say to themselves “They can’t all be wrong. Now matter how dishonest they are, they must know how badly they will look come November if they keep touting these polls and Romney manages to win.”

And my answer to that is “Bullsh!t they don’t know! And they don’t care! They don’t care that they’d be exposed as frauds because they know that everyone already knows they’re frauds!

They don’t care that they’ll be exposed because they know that their only hope for having Obama re-elected is to decrease the turnout for Romney. And so, they will do whatever it takes to accomplish that end.

They don’t care about “public” perception!

They don’t care about looking foolish!

They don’t care about anything except POWER!

That’s it! Period! End of story!!!

[At the end folks, all this crap would not matter. This elections is about the economy and Obama utterly failed record. It is about the pain of high unemployment, high gas prices, high food prices, insane debt and deficit.]

Precisely. And don’t think for a minute that the average American doesn’t know that in his or her bones.

rvastar on September 17, 2012 at 5:05 PM

So conservatives are so riled up that these polls are under estimating the enthusiasm gap for Republicans, but not riled up enough to shield themselves from the depressive coercion of polls that show Obama ahead? Can you explain that?

libfreeordie on September 17, 2012 at 5:09 PM

[Even with a huge Republican/conservative/ABO turnout, the Dems will pull every dirty trick in the book: hacked voting machines; dead people voting; absentee ballots “lost”; busing bums, students, and public-sector union workers to multiple polling places; vote manufacturing; big frowning guys with big sticks guarding the doors of polling places; etc., etc.]

And you don’t think that they were doing that in the 2010 midterms?

How’d that work out for them?

Like I said, history shows that Republicans win nationwide elections even when the party ID percentages favor Dems, as long as the spread is less than 3%. The party ID spread as of last month was +5 REPUBLICAN. If those numbers remain even marginally static – which should happen barring some cataclysmic event – then Romney wins in a landslide.

rvastar on September 17, 2012 at 5:14 PM

rvastar, how do you account for the fact that Romney has abandoned Michigan and PA. This means that the only states being contested are:

NC-easy Romney win
VA-toss up, but polls favor Obama
NV-Polls favor obama
IA-toss up, but polls favor Obama
OH-Polls favor Obama by a good margin at this point
FL-people say its a toss up, but Romney will win
WI-Polls favor Obama
CO-Polls favor Obama
NH-Polls favor Obama..alot

If you concede MI and PA then Obama only needs 40 more electoral votes to win. He can win the election with CO, WI, NV, NH and Iowa. I like those odds.

libfreeordie on September 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

But with polls showing Obama for the first time moving clearly ahead in important swing states— most notably, Ohio—Romney advisers concluded they had to make a painful course correction.

Actually, in the war of the polls, Rasmussen has Romney ahead by 2 in the swing states.

These people do not know anything..all they have to do is sit back and shut up and they will see soon enough what Romney is going to do.

Terrye on September 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM

‘Polls’
libfreeordie on September 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Youkeepsay’nthatword. I do not think it means what you think it means.

onomo on September 17, 2012 at 5:38 PM

I’m going to be a poll watcher — that’s the only thing I can think of to do — but I’m just one person in one precinct. It feels pretty lonely. Anybody else here going to be a poll watcher or poll worker? Anybody else have specific ideas to keep the “margin of fraud” down?

Mary in LA on September 17, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Hi Mary…I’ve been working at my local Republican headquarters in NC, and from the way I hear it there is no shortage of volunteers for poll watchers/poll judges. They have plenty of people willing to help….so don’t feel lonely. Lots of Republicans out here doing what you’re doing. I told them I would do whatever they needed on election day….I might wind up playing taxi for voters that need a ride. I’m not sure yet.
Keep your chin up!

lynncgb on September 17, 2012 at 5:39 PM

rvastar, how do you account for the fact that Romney has abandoned Michigan and PA.

libfreeordie on September 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Romney was never in Michigan and he’s increasing his GOTV efforts in PA. If you mean there aren’t very many ads, you are correct. But he hasn’t abandoned it. Quite the contrary, he has a ground game there that Obama is nowhere near matching and where Romney’s ground game is expanding daily.

As to your polls, they skew +10Dems. That’s a 3 point difference more than 2008 and a 5 point more than what Dems had in 2008. Do you really think Dems will make up 5% more of the electorate this time around compared to 2008?

Do you feel lucky? Well? Do ya?

He can win the election with CO, WI, NV, NH and Iowa.

HAHAHA!!!

But no. Obama needs Ohio and Romney has broken 50% there. Go look at your polls again and go look at what kind of Dem turnout you’ll need to make those polls come true. Fact is that Romney is leading 51% to 45% in Ohio if you take those polls and use the Rasmussen and Gallup party affiliation split.

Pollsters skewed polls against Hillary, McCain, Walker, all of 2010, and now Romney. This is nothing new. It’s an old tactic.

Oh, and if you’re very confident about WI, Obama is going there for the first time on Saturday. What’s that? He’s leading? Oh, but something’s happened, a TREND if you will, that made Obama go there.

Obama only has one electoral map that he can use to win. He’s backed against a wall and his resources spread thin. I’ll give you a hint. If Obama loses OH, he has no electoral map that can get him to 270. That’s how far from 2008 he’s fallen. This is why the media MUST keep the narrative against Romney going full steam. It’s also why the pollsters skew their polls. If they showed the truth, there’d be nothing to report on. The election is already over. The media just doesn’t want to admit it. But rest assured, they know it.

MrX on September 17, 2012 at 5:42 PM

There is however the chance one of those dedicated journolist goes jihad on Romney. They seem to be getting restless-that be a good poll question, the odds on that happening. Probably make it look like a lone crazy, but I saw some of the DNC convention, they travel in large, scarey, crowds.
I mean how many death threats were thrown out by the Repubs? None. How many by the Dems? Well one on camera. I don’t know, it’s all so disturbing. The progessive seems to live more by liefreeordie.
Most people don’t remember fascism when it went by that name. But seems to be alot of people spending time looking it up now. Wonder what the polls on that are?

onomo on September 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Thye narrative problem is THIS:

KABUL—The Defense Department on Monday identified one of the two Marines killed in the weekend Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan as the commanding officer of a Harrier squadron.

The officer, Lt. Col. Chris Raible of Marine Attack Squadron 211, died in the assault in which the Harrier jet unit lost around half of its aircraft. He was one of the most senior Marines killed in the war.

Six of the jump-jets were destroyed, and two were seriously damaged in the attack, in which insurgents disguised in U.S. Army uniforms managed to breach the perimeter of the heavily fortified base.

A military news release in July said Col. Raible, a Penns

LINK

So one of our Harrier squadrons gets obliterated and the media ignores the significance and just says two Americans killed????

They freaking AMBUSHED A SQUADRON!!

They blew up our planes!!

How many times have we have multiple planes blown up during the War on Terror?

NEVER, to my knowledge, since 9/11/01!

cane_loader on September 17, 2012 at 6:28 PM

mark81150 on September 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

i like your unwaivering optimism and clarity, your post should be re-posted 3,4 times on every thread :)…good for the morale of the troops :)…

jimver on September 17, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Hard to tell if it is the campaign or the press with the narrative problems.

lexhamfox on September 17, 2012 at 6:32 PM

They blew up our planes!!

How many times have we have multiple planes blown up during the War on Terror?

NEVER, to my knowledge, since 9/11/01!

cane_loader on September 17, 2012 at 6:28 PM

That is correct, my wife is in the AF and she confirmed that, I asked her the same (rhetorical) question upon reading of that news…

jimver on September 17, 2012 at 6:33 PM

I live in Ohio.. a county next to Columbus’s franklin county.. Licking. A semi-rural country, with small farming communities and one largish sized city.. Newark.. my home town..

I never see Obama bumper stickers, or yard signs.. We carried McCain by 60%,.. and here Obama has zero chance..

now it always comes down to the 10 heavy population blue counties against the 78 red smaller population ones.. but going from my gut, there is no, zero zilch enthusiasm for Obama among our democrats.. He couldn’t even fill the stadium in Columbus.. while Romney has been pulling in much larger than anticipated crowds..

Mitt is going to take Ohio.. minus massive cheating in the blue counties, which always happens.. there is just no great enthusiasm for da “Won”…

People here feel cheated by Obama, lied to.. and that’s among HIS voters.. the rest of us never liked, and can’t stand that arrogant as*.

mark81150 on September 17, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Hard to tell if it is the campaign or the press with the narrative problems.

lexhamfox on September 17, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Maybe its you.

CW on September 17, 2012 at 7:12 PM

i like your unwaivering optimism and clarity, your post should be re-posted 3,4 times on every thread :)…good for the morale of the troops :)…

jimver on September 17, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Thanks.. I’ve never been an overt optimist, I really believe that Mitt is very much the right man, at the right time.

Very much a team player… and always held the anchor man position.. The guy who got it done. Military… or employee. I really have no patience for the folks who panic and run in circles over a poll….

They’re working us.. going for the forfeit when you stay home.. well I’ve never been one to be talked into running away..Not about to start now. These chumps will leave huge pieces of themselves in the wire before I’ll lay down the 60…

not to mention the verbal Claymores I’ve had set in the tall grass..

got’s my clicker right here..

mark81150 on September 17, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Mary in LA on September 17, 2012 at 5:03 PM

My Dad’s a Conservative poll worker. I’m in a very red precinct so it doesn’t matter. I think you’re spot on about cheating. I wish we had better election security/photo voter ID laws, I think this one may come down to Democrat election fraud.

talkingpoints on September 17, 2012 at 7:36 PM

KABUL—The Defense Department on Monday identified one of the two Marines killed in the weekend Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan as the commanding officer of a Harrier squadron.

The officer, Lt. Col. Chris Raible of Marine Attack Squadron 211, died in the assault in which the Harrier jet unit lost around half of its aircraft. He was one of the most senior Marines killed in the war.

Six of the jump-jets were destroyed, and two were seriously damaged in the attack, in which insurgents disguised in U.S. Army uniforms managed to breach the perimeter of the heavily fortified base.

A military news release in July said Col. Raible, a Penns

Oh, those spontaneous angry mobs disguised in U.S. Army uniforms.

talkingpoints on September 17, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Some ideologiotic “youngminds” want to be journalists, when they grow up.

What do journalists want to be, when they grow up?

listens2glenn on September 17, 2012 at 9:44 AM

fify

cableguy615 on September 17, 2012 at 8:52 PM

mark81150 on September 17, 2012 at 6:49 PMtalkingpoints on September 17, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Yes, and I wonder if either candidate understands the long and bloody conflict we are facing.

We have an international intellectual who wants to be friends with them.

And we have a Mormon aristocrat who doesn’t look like he could become a mass murderer.

Then we have Putin and the Chinese.

Pray.

IlikedAUH2O on September 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Grinding away yesterday on one of my real-life, dyed-in-the-wool, hereditary Democrat projects. You know a few, lives like a conservative but votes like a taker. He started the conversation by talking about how he hopes to hold onto his job until social security age. What an opening. Dude, I said, don’t count on it, collapse is right around the corner. And forget about Medicare, they just ripped off $700 billion from it to help pay for the 140 new federal bureaucracies in the Obamacare scam. I had encouraged my projects a few weeks ago to watch the DNC to see where their party is taking us. This one may have been affected. He was puzzled yesterday about why Romney is not ahead. (Along with the Bradley Effect he’s probably afflicted with Front-runner Syndrome. Hates not voting for the winner.) I said what does it matter? Your vote is your vote. The current guy is a menace. So this one’s ripe for plucking, as are many others like him, guilt-lashed productive citizens. All he needs is a little tug but it’s not going to come from any of those tinkling piano, dime-a-dozen, sleep-inducing pitches. Forget about the president beng a “nice guy.” Because it’s not true. A nice guy would have done anything necessary to protect his ambassador and staff. So if the Romney campaign keeps up with that they are complicit. Romney should do an ad where he walks into an empty, silent set with hockey gloves on, then he throws them off. Close up: speaking directly to the camera, brow furrowed, Romney tells of the dangers of electing any Democrat, backed by jarring silence. A picture-in-picture box shows video from Benghazi and our ambassador being dragged through the streets. These are dangerous times. Then that disgraceful shot of the filmmaker being carried off in a midnight raid by brownshirted lawmen. Is this the USA you grew up in? Do a big network buy in the last week and run it on all those shakey camera crime-scene shows. Dyed-in-the-wool, hereditary Democrat project watches those. And he will probably watch the debates. So Mitt, in and around all the left-moderated questions can talk about the economy and yada yada yada, but in every answer he needs to drop in a hint of the DANGER inherent in voting for the incumbent. What does he have to lose? I will also strongly enccourage my projects to watch the VP debate. (I may even throw a party.) The moderator will have his/her work cut out in trying to shade questions so that Biden’s coaching staff doesn’t call for the Mercy Rule.

curved space on September 18, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Lourdes on September 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Precisely the wrong conclusion. Rubin is right and she doesn’t want obama re-elected. She’s one of the number one national Mitt cheerleaders.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM

No, it’s your perspective (and it’s “appeasing”) that is off.

IF Rubin was in reality among “Mitt’s number one cheerleaders,” she’d dump WAPO and it’s editorial skewering.

She’s now writing “questions” that go, ‘hey, maybe Romney’s not going to win’…

That’s not “cheerleading,” that’s leading from behind and going backwards.

I realize what Rubin’s mostly-accrued internet reputation is (“Mitt’s cheerleader”) but she’s writing in WAPO with WAPO influence and editorial “redistribution of reality” to put it.

I don’t lend trust to people who slap the face while claiming to be friendly.

Lourdes on September 18, 2012 at 7:12 AM

Mitt made his point and the worm is turning and the M. E. situation is getting worse AND ALL THE TROLLS HERE CAN TALK ABOUT IS THEIR SINCERE CONCERN OVER ROMNEY’S CAMPAIGN?

Dry that one out, fells, and you can fertilize the White House lawn.

The War Planner on September 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Yep, exactly right.

Romney was right to speak out quickly and correctly – and frankly – as he did. It’s just that his statement contradicts the Obama/Left meme that continues to mislead the public and drum them into staying asleep in their hypnotised state.

Romney DOES represent real and effective change for our nation and for our world, accordingly as we influence, help and associate with others. Our nation is at a dangerous tipping point, while the Middle East and the “Nation of Islam” has long since gone insane or refused treatment that might help it get well.

Lourdes on September 18, 2012 at 7:18 AM

I continue to hope that people will realize the damages they do when they express the “yes, well, but…” perspective and then go on to focus on the liabilities and condemnations instead of supporting a process of recovery and rebuilding.

We can each and all criticize government as we go along but with Obama in Office along with the current DNC, our nation is quickly being replaced with another.

Lourdes on September 18, 2012 at 7:20 AM

I suspect without weighting Obama is getting crushed in Dem internal polling, the media doing the weighting in their polls sees this, and they have to find anything to push their boy across.

PastorJon on September 17, 2012 at 4:56 PM

What I have seen in the detailed poll numbers supports your suspicion. Most of the polls that show Obama up by 1-2 points require a 10% advantage in the number of Democrats counted. whereas the independents are breaking Romney 54 to 44 with maybe 2% undecided, typically.

Voyager on September 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM

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