Home 2016 elections Washington Post “Analysis” of Virginia “Super Tuesday” Turnout Wildly Misleading

Washington Post “Analysis” of Virginia “Super Tuesday” Turnout Wildly Misleading


Is this “analysis” by the Washington Post as wildly misleading as it seems? Why yes…yes it is! Here are a few reasons why I say that (note: I also checked with several political pros to see what they thought, and am including their reasons as well, in quotes).

  1. For starters, by Virginia’s primary on February 12, 2008, John McCain had already de facto clinched the GOP nomination on Super Tuesday (February 5, 2008), with Mitt Romney withdrawing on February 7, 2008. So…Virginia’s GOP primary in 2008 was almost completely meaningless, boring, anti-climactic, you name it. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
  2. In stark contrast, the Virginia Democratic primary in 2008 couldn’t have been more exciting, with an extremely hot race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and with Virginia a state both campaigns worked hard to win. So of course turnout was super-high that year!
  3. In constrast, as a Dem politico told me (correctly): “Republicans have a competitive race this time; Dems really don’t (sorry Bernie fans).”
  4. As a Dem politico told me, “turnout is always higher for the party out of power,” in this case the Republicans. In 2008, it was a totally different situation, obviously, with George W. Bush having been in the White House since 2001.
  5. Also: “Republicans have [a gazillion] candidates running this time,” all of whom are spending tons of money and campaigning like mad to get out their voters. Again, that was not the case by the Virginia 2008 GOP primary.
  6. And: “The TV networks with their 24/7 Trump coverage have not really made the Dem primary a big focus.”
  7. Finally, “In Northern Virginia, there were absolutely a lot of Dems who went to vote AGAINST Trump” (Patricia Sullivan reported on this in the Post today; I also have a hard-core Democratic neighbor who told me she voted for Kasich to try and stop Trump and Cruz).

So why does the Washington Post push this fallacious crap as “news,” especially when it’s really just a bulls*** GOP talking point to try to depress and demoralize Democrats? I asked a few political friends what they thought. Here’s a sampling.

  • “They want clicks, duh.”
  • “If there’s a second agenda there, it’s instinctive self-insulation from bias allegations by playing both sides.”
  •  “Because they GOP is saying it, and and [the corporate media] are stenographers, not reporters. A reporter would ask: is there any evidence that this has a connection?”
  • I personally think the media really, really wants a close race this summer and fall, and as much drama as possible leading up to the general election. So if they can push narratives indicating that this might be the case, they do it, even if there’s no empirical basis of truth to the narrative.

Anything else we all missed? Feel free to weigh in about the godawful corporate media, and the Washington Post specifically, in the comments section.

  • Di Read

    Lowkell, I’ve long since given up regarding the WaPo as anything but entertainment. I read it to find out what the corporatist press is saying. The real news is collected by people like you and your fellow bloggers, who are actually out where the news happens, and who report what people are really saying. Tell ya what, in my Fairfax County precinct, voting was steady and reportedly, women went for Hillary.

    • They have some good reporters over at the Post, like Jenna Portnoy and Patricia Sullivan, but overall they’ve seen their better days…

  • Bradley Purcell

    Well, Lowell, isn’t it possible that some of the votes Trump got around the state including NoVa came from Democratic spoilers? It can be hard to figure out where spoilers in fact come from. Media in 2014 wrongly attributed Dave Brat’s upset of Eric Cantor entirely to Tea Party elements rather than to large numbers of Henrico Dems who took any opportunity to vote out someone they had come to loathe.

    More important, consider that Dem. turnout in state after state so far has been low, either compared with Republican or compared with Dem turnout from 2008. As a Sanders supporter, I have been disappointed that the big turnout we have needed often hasn’t materialized, even in states we won. Smile if you want, Lowell, but that trend may be cold comfort to Hillary, if it means that many of the (justifiably) angry and disgusted people around are turning to Trump rather than Sanders. Corporate media coverage of Trump has, after all, been a multiple of their attention to Bernie. If the anger vote, which Sanders knows what to do with, continues to tilt Repub., harnessed by Trump, while Hillary talks “love and kindness” then 2016 could show an “enthusiasm gap” like the last two midterms. How will Hillary do then?

    • “isn’t it possible that some of the votes Trump got around the state including NoVa came from Democratic spoilers?”

      Yes, I’ve said that repeatedly, including in point #7 of this blog post.

      • Bradley Purcell

        No, you didn’t, Lowell, not here at least. Your #7 said the opposite, that some Dems might have crossed lines to vote AGAINST Trump. My point was the reverse, that some Dems might have voted FOR Trump as SPOILERS. And do you have any response to my other point about low turnout? Does such a possibility concern you?

        • You’re right, my bad…that’s what I did indeed write. 🙂 But yeah, I’ve also heard there were some Dems who voted for Trump, no idea how many. As for “low turnout” in the primaries for Dems, I’m not particularly concerned (for one thing, I don’t believe the primaries are reflective of the general election). I guess my biggest surprise is that Bernie Sanders isn’t bringing out a lot more Dems than he has been. Why do you think that’s the case?

          • Bradley Purcell

            It’s hard to say. It is possible, as I mentioned above, that the large numbers of unaffiliated voters that Sanders needs to attract into the electoral process to beat Clinton (and who may have been populating his rallies, as you observe) are entering the process, but voting for Trump instead. In other words, Sanders may not be losing the South to Clinton so much as he is to Trump.
            If this supposition, which I have not proven, is an any respect true, then the Dems could be in trouble against Trump this fall, especially if they choose Clinton. Have you read Political Fictions, by Joan Didion? It’s a work of political non-fiction from 2002, about the anti -(Bill) Clinton witchhunts of the 1990s, but is just as relevant to the years since. Her point is that media obsession with Clinton’s pecadilloes despite their unimportance, and despite well-documented lack of interest by the public, served to increase ordinary peoples’ disengagement from a political process that seemed unresponsive to their own lives and needs. Didion noted then how vulnerable US politics could be to a future demagogue with the right bio, program, and approach.

          • No, I haven’t read that, but it sounds very relevant to what’s going on right now! By the way, good news about Michael Bloomberg not running, at least we don’t have to worry about him siphoning off votes from the Dem nominee…