I was shocked by the front page at MSNBC this morning:
I was even more shocked by the title of the actual story:
Was this for real? Had MSNBC.com been hacked by the VRWC? Had a GOP-designed computer virus sent me to FoxNews.com when I opened up MSNBC? Not only was this poll getting coverage, it was getting top billing. And the explanation was simple and to-the-point. Results were compared to previous results. In a Washington Post article, no less.
The survey suggests that the stakes for Kerry and the Democrats as they began their convention in Boston could not be higher. In barely a month, Kerry has lost ground to President Bush on every top voting issue in this year’s election.
A growing proportion of voters say Bush and not Kerry is the candidate who most closely shares their values, and four in 10 believe the Democrat is “too liberal.” Bush has even narrowed the gap on which candidate better understands their problems, an area in which Kerry has led.
Is this for real? Simple reporting on a poll and straighforward analysis of the results, with previous results and trends noted?
Alas, it isn’t.
The poll suggests that negative ads by the Bush-Cheney campaign that have been airing since early March, as well as attacks by Republican officials, have been increasingly successful in planting the image of Kerry as an unreliable leader who flip-flops on the issues — perceptions that Democrats will work hard to reverse at their convention.
So it’s the mean Republicans who are responsible for voters’ uncertainty. It’s negative political ads that are responsible for the image of Kerry flip-flopping on the issues.