Monday, April 05, 2010

Nate Silver misses the elephant in the room

Nate Silver unpacks today's polls on the tea party movement, noting no matter how they spin it, the majority of their adherents are far right conservatives with no grasp of reality. Of course he doesn't put it those words but that's the way I read the data. And while this is true on one level:
That does not mean that the tea-party is insignificant. Democrats underestimated it last year: it was one of the first tangible signs of trouble for Obama.
Nate neglects to mention the most important factor that gives these people significance. In terms of sheer numbers, there are many bigger, more motivated activist groups who have far less impact on the narrative. The only reason the tea party has gained significance despite being unable to drum up any truly impressively large turnouts at their rallies, is because of the over-weaning media attention they receive.

As I said on Twitter this morning, millions of anti-war protesters in 2003 were treated as the radical fringe left by the politicans and the media. The tea party's biggest event to my knowledge was the DC rally that drew in real numbers about 60K people. Yet they are feted by the press, catered to by leading GOPers, minutely studied by the pollsters and proclaimed "real Americans." The implications being the majority of Americans who voted in a Democratic majority are still the radical fringe left.

Well, if CNN had embedded with the anti-war movement back in the day, and demographic studies had been done on who showed up at rallies, they would have found those were "real Americans" too and maybe we could have avoided a disastrous war that now, even Republicans are calling a grievous mistake.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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