UntanglingTheSpin

Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Misfire

Over the past several months, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board clashed frequently with conservatives who fought to stop Obamacare during the funding battle.  Rushing to continue their linguistic assault, the editorial writers made a clear error in their lead editorial last night (cached version):

Mr. Cuccinelli’s supposed friends in the tea party also stabbed him in the back by pushing the government shutdown.  About 30% of Virginia voters live in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that are packed with government employees, and nearly 90% of voters in exit polls blamed Republicans for the shutdown. (emphasis added)

But the exit polling says no such thing.  The “nearly 90%” figure the Journal’s editorial writers referenced was that 88% of voters who blamed Republicans voted for of McAuliffe.

There was actually a near-even split between President Obama (45%) and Republicans in Congress (48%) on who was “more to blame” for the partial shutdown.  Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, provided some helpful context:

Considering that individuals almost always poll better than groups of people—particularly Republicans (or, for that matter, Democrats) in Congress, this is a devastating result for Obama.

Barone also noted the “Obamacare rollout fiasco and Obama’s lies hurt Democrats” in Virginia.

An updated version of the Journal editorial notes “An earlier version of this editorial misstated the exit poll results on the shutdown.”  But rather than changing the 90% figure to reflect the 45-48 split cited above, the editorial writers attempted to make their point by diverting to talk about suburban voters:

Mr. Cuccinelli’s supposed friends in the tea party also stabbed him in the back by pushing the government shutdown. About 30% of Virginia voters live in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that are packed with government employees, and the Democrat won that suburban vote by 62% to 33% according to the exit polls. (emphasis added)

It appears the editorial writers were so intent on continuing their war against what they dub the “kamikaze caucus” they didn’t even question the notion that 90% of Virginians were in agreement on an issue.  Reality doesn’t always lend itself to rhetorical red meat, and the exit poll numbers paint a much murkier picture of the shutdown’s impact on the final tally than readers were led to believe.

To be clear, they are entitled to their own opinions – they are opinion writers after all – but they are not entitled to their own facts.

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