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June 19, 2008

Sun Rises in East, Pundit Says

Political pundits have a longstanding tradition of breathlessly stating the obvious. Similarly, political reportage has an ingrained habit of throwing facts and figures at us without bothering to explain their meaning. Neither of these things surprises us—yet a recent article by ABC News's Jake Tapper on Obama's "struggle to win over key groups" may have set a new world record for meaningless analysis.

It includes this piece of information: "Women, particularly married white women, however, may be a problem for Obama, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll. It showed that McCain has a 20 point advantage over Obama among married white women, a group that George Bush also won in the last two presidential elections."

We have difficulty finding it surprising that Obama is losing a group Bush won. Furthermore, if it's true that "women…may be a problem for Obama," then why not tell us his polling number for all women instead of a cherry-picked sliver? Perhaps it's because Obama has a double-digit lead among all women.

That, however, pales in comparison to the next bit of revelatory wisdom: "The crucial political battle appears to be shaping up around independent voters between the age of 30 and 64."
In other words, the "crucial political battle" will be for…voters who are committed to neither party and are around the same age as half of all-voting age Americans.

That's followed by a quote from ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who informs us that—we're not making this up—"Those middle of the road independent voters, they are breaking right down the middle."

Tapper concludes by noting that close to a quarter of Clinton voters have yet to support Obama, about which Stephanopoulos says, "If that number stays that high, it will be difficult for Barack Obama to win." That sounds pretty reasonable, except that, you know, as of now Obama is winning—he has a lead of roughly three to five points in nearly every national poll.

So, we'd like to ask the following question to ABC News: This is a joke, right? This is some kind of sophisticated send-up of what passes for political commentary in much of the mainstream media, correct? Because for a moment there, we really thought it was written by The Onion.

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