Mr. Jolly goes to Washington!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014

Alvarez battles for clarity: This morning, the New York Times tried to report yesterday’s House election.

Jolly beat Sink in Florida’s 13th district. At the Times, Lizette Alvarez found the district a little bit hard to define.

This is the way she started:
ALVAREZ (3/12/14): In a major victory for Republicans in the battle for control of Congress, David Jolly, a former lobbyist, narrowly won a special election for a House seat on Tuesday in a hotly contested swing district, giving the party an expensive triumph in its fight against President Obama’s health care plan.
The Republican won in a swing district. But hold on! By paragraph 5, the district seemed to be changing:
ALVAREZ: Even before the loss, Democrats were playing down a possible defeat, saying the mostly white, Republican-leaning district, packed with many older voters, was going to be a challenge for them.
Is that just what the Dems were saying? Or is that what the district actually is? In paragraph 6, we learned this:
ALVAREZ (continuing directly): It is the first time in more than 40 years that the congressional district will be overseen by someone other than Representative C. W. Bill Young, a Republican who died in October, setting off the scramble for the job. But for some voters, Mr. Jolly was the closest thing to Mr. Young—for years he served as one of Mr. Young’s senior aides and general counsel.
Did that make the district sound more Republican? In paragraph 12, we learned this:
ALCAREZ: The Gulf Coast district, always a centerpiece in national elections because of its many independent voters and a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans, is in Pinellas County, and it includes much of St. Petersburg.
The two parties seemed to be even again. But near the end, in paragraph 20, Alvarez once again said the district was “Republican-leaning.”

We’re describing the news report we found in our hard-copy Times. On-line, additional material has been added to make the district sound more Republican. On the other hand, that second “Republican-leaning” reference has been dropped.

Whether on-line or in our hard copy, Alvarez never reported the fact that Obama carried the district in 2012. At least, that’s what we’ve read from other sources, for example from Kevin Drum.

This morning, we were plenty confused by the time we left the coffee joint. That said, there’s an old saying in Times reporting:

If you don’t like the Florida 13th district, just wait a while.

44 comments:

  1. according to DKos, Obama won the district by 1 percent in 2012. As I sorted here http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024494682

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    1. District 13's 2012 Presidential vote is an outlier, since it voted Republican in the 2008, 2004, and 2000 Presidential elections . It has been gerrymandered 4 times since 1973, it hasn't elected a Democrat since 1981, and it voted the infamous Kathryn Harris to Congress twice. The Cook Partisan Voting Index lists it as R + 1 (Florida is listed at R + 2).

      Alvarez probably confused the blogger in trying to equivocate District 13 into a swing state when historically is clearly not. District 13, although not a Republican stronghold, consistently votes Republican. Neither the blog nor the subject article provides adequate context as to significance of Jolly's razor-thin margin of victory, but at least, the blogger doesn't seem to reach that issue, while many in the national media are making this election out to be a canary in a coalmine for the Democrats' mid-term prospects.

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    2. "many in the national media are making this election out to be a canary in a coalmine for the Democrats' mid-term prospects."

      Such as who? The prevailing "wisdom" I hear from sources of all stripes, including Drum, is you really can't too much one way or the other from a low-turnout, special election in March.

      And there is great danger in reading too much into it, either way.

      It is one of those elections that was so close that any number of factors can be cited, and it is next to impossible to select THE reason that Jolly prevailed.

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    3. It was so close that the fact that one candidate was named "sink" while the other was named "jolly" could have determined the outcome.

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    4. Anonymous @ 6:23

      "It is one of those elections that was so close that any number of factors can be cited, and it is next to impossible to select THE reason that Jolly prevailed."

      Almost as close as Gore - Bush. Therefore it is clear we can blame it on Chris Matthews.

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    5. Yes, clearly America went with the candidate preferred by the then-CNBC pundit who almost got somebody killed.

      Somerby almost wrote a book about it.

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    6. Do you think Sink might have won if there hadn't been a bunch of anti-ACA ads run during this election? I do.

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  2. This is confusing because there are three sources of information: (1) voting in the specific race, (2) voting in the presidential race, and (3) voter registrations. These are inconsistent with each other: (1) Republican, (2) Democrat, (3) Independent. The reporter should have explicitly clarified this but I think it makes sense that a district with independent voters might go for one party in one election and a candidate from another party in a different race.

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    1. Right now, the majority of "independents" are actually conservative republicans who don't want to be identified with the republican party. They vote very conservatively though.

      "Independent" does not mean "moderate"

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  3. Even before presenting his case, Somerby was playing down the accuracy of the article, saying the Times was trying to report on an election, but that he was confused. By the time you finish his post, you will be too.

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  4. Bob Somerby is completely clear and right, the NYTimes report was ridiculous.

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    1. Yes. It is amazing its upper middle class readers have not demanded the whole lot of them be fired.

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  5. The district is tough to characterize (Slate):

    "President Obama won a majority of the vote across the district in 2008 (51.9% of the vote) and again in 2012 (50.7%). In 2010, in a challenging election cycle for Democrats, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink received 51.1% of the vote in FL-13 despite losing statewide to Rick Scott. In 2006, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson won the district with 63.7% of vote, compared to the 61.3% he received statewide.

    As a bone-gnawing exercise

    "Alvarez never reported the fact that Obama carried the district in 2012"

    without mentioning the narrowness of the victory is pretty low even for the blogger.

    The article was one long exercise in "See how smart I am and how dumb everyone else is" that ended up proving the opposite.

    How is this monumentally futile, baleful creature able to go on from day to day?

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    1. The voter turnout in FL-13 yesterday was 39 percent, or approximately 186,000 votes total. Which was Jolly's dream.

      In 2012, over 320,000 votes were cast in FL-13.

      It would be nice if our resident blogger could consider there might be a difference between a presidential election in November and a special election in March.


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    2. Serious question for Anonymous 4:18 -- If that's how you feel, why do you bother to continue to read and comment on this blog?

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    3. Serious answer: None of your damned business what I continue to read and comment on, so you can stop worrying your pointy little head over it.

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    4. I've asked this question of commenters, and from the same nasty response JS-1/2 got, of the same person. And the reply is the same: no one is denying either your right to comment or your right to keep your reasons to yourself. But only fools spend time and energy on things they find worthless. So expect folks to point out occasionally that you're a fool. It's not like anyone has a subpoena.

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    5. Only fools who have conned themselves into thinking they are clever worry about how other people spend their time and energy. Sensible people realize it's none of their damned business.

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    6. And I notice that both Jonny and deadrat would rather pretend to be asking a "serious question" without addressing anything 4:18 said.

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    7. Serious questions for Jonny Scrum-half.

      Do you have an objection to the point raised by 4:18? It seems to indicate the blogger is woefully ignorant of the way turnout favor Republicans in special elections, indicating Mr. Somerby might be easily confused about electoral politics. Otherwise it seems he would rather pretend he is to make a stupid point about the reporter, none of whose facts highlighted by Somerby is wrong.

      Second question. Do you ever write comments adding to a discussion. Almost all I have seen are critical of those raising disagreements with Somerby. If you have nothing to add except criticicism of critics, why read the comment section?

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    8. Jonny and deadrat should also consider this.

      Considering that a Bob fan once thought that Bob's 1,000 to 2,000 or so "unique hits" per day was actually a high volume of traffic for a national blog that's been around 16 years, let me assure them both that Somerby is quite thankful for anyone, fans or trolls, who still spends time on this blog.

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    9. @6:20: Somerby is complaining about the way facts were explained to readers. I think it is likely he understood it himself, as did many of the readers commenting here. The job of a journalist is to be clear and to write so that those with less technical knowledge will understand, not use conflicting descriptors that will confuse people unnecessarily.

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    10. Which "facts" and "technical knowledge" were confusing? This is a divided district with an edge to registered Republicans that has tended to vote Republican.

      Alvarez was quite clear about that, and quite correct.

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    11. "The voter turnout in FL-13 yesterday was 39 percent, or approximately 186,000 votes total. Which was Jolly's dream."

      Yep. Disgusting. Kind of makes voter suppression argument a little hard to make when less than 40% turn out to elect their representative to congress.

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    12. Anonymous @6:15P,

      There are plenty of things that I am occasionally curious about but which are none of my business. I don't worry about them, but sometimes I ask about them. Since I realize I have no right to have answers, I also realize that I may have to settle for a "no comment. And I don't worry about that either.

      Delete
    13. Anonymous @6:28P,

      I have no idea what TDH is thankful for. My guess would be that whatever "a Bob fan" once thought about "unique hits" provides no consideration to determine the bloggers state of mind. And if you do, then you're as big a fool as Anonymous @4:18P.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous @6:19P,

      You can stop pretending to know what I'm pretending any time now. My question isn't serious even by blog standards. It was just idle curiosity.

      Nothing Anonymous @4:18 wrote was worth "addressing." TDH claimed that Alvarez should have mentioned that Obama carried the district, and @4:18P fumed that TDH didn't in turn mention the narrowness of Obama's victory. Is @4:18P angry because he thinks TDH requires that Alvarez mention Obama's victory without the margin? Perhaps Alvarez should have mentioned both facts. Is @4:18P angry because he thinks TDH is writing a blog entry about the special election itself instead of an entry about the supposedly-bad reporting on said election?

      Anonymous @4:18P has read TDH's mind to find out how smart TDH thinks he himself is. Of course, that's just foolishness. TDH either makes a fair point or he doesn't.

      In a world filled with the vile, Anonymous @4:18P finds TDH a "baleful creature." And that's foolishness too.

      But it's clear Anonymous @4:18P is a fool: he spends his time and energy on the "monumentally futile."

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    15. In a word filled with the vile, deadrat finds Anonymous @4:18P "a fool." As he continues to worship at the altar of the high priest of vile name-calling.

      Of course, after writing a few more posts to add to the pile of weak explanations of what he is not "worried about" so he can call out a few more playground names.

      Oh, the irony. Oh, the high level of discourse Bob's fans follow.


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    16. Oh, please. When you get up off the fainting couch, read this:

      In the hierarchy of "vile name-calling," "fool" doesn't even appear. Everybody is foolish at one time, just as everybody is ignorant about some things.

      Blogs don't appear in the list of arenas of "high level discourse," so spare us your irony.

      But extra troll points for BOBfan comments, especially the "altar of the high priest" thingy. Remember when I said everbody is a fool sometimes?

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    17. It's always the same for the trolls -- the demonstrably shittty reporting Somerby mentions isn't really bad, because look, *Somerby* didn't elucidate a salient point!

      Also, if you don't agree that Somerby's wee blog work is the worse problem as compared to shitty reporting, it's simply because you worship him as your do-no-wrong idol, unlike us, the free-thinkers of the world.

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    18. deadrat, please!

      BOBfan is a trademark of Zarkon Enterprises. And we would never call the OTB a priest, even a high one.

      KZ

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    19. Anon @ 12:57

      "demonstrably shitty reporting"?

      Was anything in it inaccurate? In fact, the only "salient point" of criticism BOB can muster is that the reporter "did not elucidate" the results on the 2012 presidential election. She also left out the result of the 2012 Congressional race, which was handily won by the Republican incumbent. That was an equally "salient point" but one BOB overlooked.

      Perhaps you wish us to stroll down memory lane and refresh you on BOB's history with the reporter?

      KZ

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    20. yes we have a wish For you KZ, but that isnt it!

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  6. Isn't there a newspaper in Tampa-St. Pete? How did they do on this election?

    Oh, I forgot. The New York Times is the only newspaper that exists in Bob's World.

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    1. Why would they do any better. There is not a single factual error Mr. Somerby has pointed to in the Timnes article. He is confusion is the same on this topic, elections, as he has demonstrated with physics. He lacks basic understanding so it is hard for him to know how to deal with anything as complex as an out of cycle election in a swing district.

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    2. Wrong. Somerby would not be able to write an article complaining about this article if he didn't first understand the problem with it. Journalists should be clear. That is their job. Being factually correct is just the starting place -- facts need to be clearly expressed.

      Folks in Tampa-St. Pete perhaps already understand political realities. Those reading the NY Times are not local but they have been hearing that this is a voter referendum on Obamacare's rollout, a precursor of the 2014 midterms, etc. So there has been national attention focused and that makes the NY Times versions pertinent.

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    3. To me, this article was quite clear. It's the election itself that wasn't very clear.

      But that won't stop Somerby from playing his peculiar game of cherry-picking a couple of passages out of context and declaring the whole article confusing.

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  7. I see that the on-line version of the article mentioned that the Libertarian candidate got 5% of the vote. Presumably most of that vote would have gone Republican in a two candidate race. That makes the result 53.4% to 46.5% -- a very solid victory for a weak candidate who was outspent by a well-known Democrat. I think this result does carry over state lines, because Obamacare has been a national SNAFU. Every Republican in the country can run against it.

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    1. Someone who has been the right-hand to the incumbent (as described in the article) is not exactly unknown. Further, I heard Sink badmouthing Obamacare herself in an interview so it hardly seems like a referendum on Obamacare when neither candidate was supportive of it.

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    2. Did you also add the socialist, green, and other leftist candidate votes into Sink's total? Maybe some of the Libertarians would have gone for the Democrat -- she didn't strike me as being very Liberal and not all Libertarians feel at home with all stripes of Republican.

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    3. Did you also add the socialist, green, and other leftist candidate votes into Sink's total?


      48.4% (Rep) + 46.5% (Dem) + 4.8% (Lib) = 99.7%. So, all other parties + write-ins were only 0.3% of the vote.

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    4. I am sure Somerby would find fault with David in Cal's basic assumption. It was the same one used by Republicans to assume, absent Perot, that Bush Elder would have beaten Clinton.

      Of course it also feeds the notion that without Nader, Gore would have beaten Bush Lesser. Somerby can't have that.
      It let's Chris Matthews off the hook.

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