Monday, March 10, 2008


Based on this, shouldn't we be able to dispense with the general election and just declare Barack Obama the next president?

...A new survey by the National Beer Wholesalers Association asked individuals to name the candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, and Barack Obama easily cruised to victory (41 percent, compared with 21 percent for John McCain and 10 percent for Hillary Clinton)....

That's a huge lead over McCain -- but the real polls are much closer (in some polls, McCain wins)> So what's up? I thought beer appeal was our principal criterion for a president.

But maybe that's not how our elections really work. i'm looking at the John McCain items Atrios and Steve Benen have flagged today. First, from THe New York Times:

...Mr. McCain said he planned to continue to hold forth with reporters on the back of his bus, the Straight Talk Express.

Aides believe that doing so makes Mr. McCain less likely to be the subject of what they call "gotcha" journalism, and not merely because he tries to develop a rapport with journalists, whom he has jokingly called "my base." They believe that giving journalists access to the candidate, and the chance to hear about his positions at length, will make them less likely to jump on statements taken out of context.

That seemed to be borne out last week, when Mr. McCain briefly tripped over the name of the new Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev. Reporters, who have been known to quiz candidates on the names of foreign leaders, did not pounce....

And then from a Howard Kurtz's interview with Ana Marie Cox of Time, on CNN, in which Cox argued that reporters who regularly travel with McCain don't bother to report on his outbursts of temper:

... KURTZ: But that suggests that the people who have been traveling with him regularly… become part of the bubble, part of the team?

COX: Become part of the bubble, and also, I mean, I think what happens is that you -- if you've been covering him for a long time, there's a sense that, well, he does that all the time, it's not worth reporting, because he does -- he's a cranky old man. I mean, to be quite frank....

So maybe the important thing isn't which candidate the public would enjoy having a beer with. Maybe the important thing is which candidate the press would enjoy having a beer with. This year, the public's choice is obvious. But the press is keeping the race close.

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