Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Report the Invisible Primary

Thus far in the invisible primary of 2016 we've seen plenty of terrible reporting from all quarters of the press that are frankly too numerous to count, much less link up here.  However, there's some really good stuff going on out there.  For my money, Robert Costa of the Washington Post is quickly establishing himself as my personal favorite, as his coverage has really focused on what matters in things invisible primary.  A hallmark of the junk tends to be heavy on the various match ups for 2016 or even worse, the results of horrifically unrepresentative straw polls such as what we saw coming out of CPAC several weeks ago.  Not so for Costa...

Whilst multitasking between Fareed Zakaria, watching the T20 cricket championship (Australia, what are you doing?), and scanning headlines, I ran into this article by Costa and his colleague Phillip Rucker.  Kudos to them both.  

Let's set aside Jeb Bush's chances for winning the nomination for the moment, and focus on the coverage itself, as this is good stuff from the perspective of political scientists.  They quite literally are covering all the bases that matter.  First, they recognize that this isn't just a matter of a candidate trolling for support within the various parts of the party establishment, but the various parts of the party establishment actively vetting a candidate, or as they put it a "draft" is underway.  Second, they recognize the players here are a diverse network and are deeply concerned about both policy and the political feasibility of the noisiest candidate of the moment, Senator Rand Paul.  Third, they hit the importance of money at this point, and not just ability of Bush stuff his own coffers, but as I've noted before, make it rain for other Republicans across the country.  Fourth, they have a nice discussion on the strengths and weaknesses Bush brings to the table and how they will play to the various factions of the party.  If reporting the invisible primary was a four-banger of a motor, they'd be firing on all cylinders.

And here's where I really appreciate their work and where they separate themselves even more from most of their competition: While they eventually get around to some poll numbers and the (possible) issue of "Bush fatigue," it's at the tail end of the article and well embedded in a nuanced discussion of the factors that matter.  And they're not referencing some idiotic "Jeb vs. Hillary" face-off that litters most coverage at this point, but focusing on factors unique to Gov. Bush.  When we cannot even begin predict what the fundamentals of the 2016 contest will be, those sorts of head to head polls are superfluous.  

Overall, nicely done gentlemen!  I for one, will be following both these people's work rather carefully, as should you all.


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