Goblins of the New York Times!


Werewolves of Gotham, ah-ooh: Is it true? Do suburban women hold the key to this year's elections?

That fuzzy claim appears, or possibly just seems to appear, on the front page of this morning's New York Times. Online, the headline on the report says this:

Suburban Women, No Longer ‘Soccer Moms,’ Hold Key to Midterms

A similar headline adorns the report in print editions. In print editions, the headline says this:

‘Soccer Moms’ No More, Suburban Women Hold Key to Midterms

These suburban women today! They're no longer soccer moms, but they somehow (seem to) "hold [the] key" to this year's elections.

Is it true that suburban women (somehow) hold the key? And while we're at it, how about this:

Does the report in the New York Times even make that claim? The headline seems to make that claim. But does that claim really exist within the body of the report?

We'd have to say that the answer is no—the report makes no such claim. For our money, the report is spectacularly fatuous, in the manner of many front-page Times reports.

That said, does the report actually claim that suburban women hold the key to this year's elections? Actually, no, it doesn't. Here's how the report begins:

GOLDSTEIN ET AL (11/5/22): The “soccer mom” was born a cliché.

Americans were introduced to her during the 1996 presidential race, when she was heralded by campaign consultants and the media as the new center of the American electorate—a white, married, minivan-steering, cleats-toting, home-owning swing voter, exhausted by culture wars and seeking optimistic, common-sense politics.

That year, so-called soccer moms broke for the Democratic incumbent, President Bill Clinton, over his Republican challenger, Bob Dole, a senator from Kansas. Mr. Clinton appealed to suburban women by signing a tough crime bill and promising to put reading tutors in schools.

A quarter century later, female suburban voters remain a key swing constituency and, amid the coronavirus pandemic, crime and education are again crucial concerns. But recent polls have shown that unlike in 1996, independent female voters are tilting toward Republicans.

In a word, sad! For starters, note this:

In fact, the report says that female suburban voters are "a" key swing constituency in this year's elections. 

Rather plainly, that implies that there are other "key swing constituencies." The genius who composed the Times' front-page headline seemed to make these women the key to this year's vote, not one key among others.

That problem lands on some headline writer. Also though, note this:

In the final paragraph which we've posted, Dana Goldstein and three colleagues execute a switch. 

First, they say that "female suburban voters" are a key swing constituency this year.  Then, they report a polling result among "independent female voters"—a substantially different group.

Sad! "Female suburban voters" are one thing; "independent female voters" are a quite different assemblage. To Goldstein and her legion of compatriots, this rather obvious distinction didn't seem to compute.

Meanwhile, along came a headline writer to make their report even dumber. We're left with a headline which seems to say that "suburban women" are the key to the whole shebang this year!

This work is very, very dumb, but it's basically par for the course. According to the Times report, these are the nine (9!) giants who joined forces to produce the body of the report:

Dana Goldstein is a national correspondent, writing about how education policies impact families, students and teachers across the country. She is the author of “The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession.” 

Robert Gebeloff is a reporter specializing in data analysis. He works on in-depth stories where numbers help augment traditional reporting

Allison McCann is a reporter and graphics editor covering civil rights, criminal justice and, occasionally, women’s soccer for The Times. She was previously based in London on the International desk.

Brent McDonald is a senior video journalist, based in Washington. He produces short documentaries, video news stories and visual investigations. 

Nailah Morgan, Julie Bosman and Jack Healy contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

This cast of thousands produced today's front-page report. 

Several went to the finest schools. (Goldstein graduated from Brown, McCann graduated from Stanford). 

For unknown reasons, Goldstein, an education reporter, is presented as the lead reporter on this rather different topic.

Occasionally, McCann covers women's soccer. Meanwhile, this is the way these highly educated national journalists assembled today's report:

GOLDSTEIN ET AL: In interviews with more than a dozen women in swing regions ahead of Election Day, many said they thought of themselves as apolitical. But they could not avoid the sense that politics were intruding on their lives. Notably, the women, who live in a variety of suburban settings, shared a sense of pessimism about the direction of the country. They were strained by the cost of housing and groceries, they said, and fearful of crime. Many felt freedom itself was under threat, whether the freedom they sought was the right to abortion or the right to shield their children from what they considered objectionable ideas on gender and race.

The nine (9) journalists spoke to "more than a dozen" (13) women! No one can say that this cast of thousands skimped on performing the leg work!

At any rate, nothing in the report explains or supports the headline beneath which it sits. Meanwhile, how about the actual claim in the report—the claim that "recent polls have shown that...independent female voters are tilting toward Republicans?"

That claim certainly could be true. But what is presented as evidence?

A lonely link in support of that claim leads to this earlier front-page report. That earlier report discussed results from the monthly NYT/Siena poll which was conducted in October. 

Here's the passage from that report on which the Goblin Nine rely. For a fairly obvious reason, this was remarkably shaky work:

GOLDMACHER (10/17/22): The biggest shift came from women who identified as independent voters. In September, they favored Democrats by 14 points. Now, independent women backed Republicans by 18 points—a striking swing given the polarization of the American electorate and how intensely Democrats have focused on that group and on the threat Republicans pose to abortion rights.

Should anyone really believe that a shift that large—a giant shift of 32 points—had really occurred, in one month's time, among that particular group? Consider: 

That entire October survey had involved 792 likely voters. Presumably, the number of respondents who were "women who identified as independent voters" was quite small—and the margin of error within that group would have been correspondingly large.

That said, so what? Shane Goldmacher reported that statistical shift without comment or words of caution—and it was on the basis of that one poll that today's nine (9) reporters seem to have made their pronouncement about what "recent polls [plural] have [supposedly] shown."

In sum, today's reporters seem to have worked from one poll—from one poll with a very small N. Some headline writer then came along and goosed what they had said. But so it routinely goes at our nation's paper of record.

We'd planned to discuss something else today, but this front-page groaner carried us away. 

That said, before we read this morning's report, we perused this Kevin Drum post about a front-page report in yesterday's New York Times. 

That report dealt with crime, or with perceptions of crime; its reporting was horrible too. (We think Drum, who focused on Fox, was too kind concerning the Times.) 

That reporting was very weak, as Drum's data help show. But so is the reporting in today's front-page New York Times report concerning perceptions of crime!

Werewolves of Gotham, ah-ooh! The people who produced these reports went to the finest schools. By the norms of our society, these people are "highly educated." 

They're our highest ranking national journalists! They're pretty much all we have, as they were back in the day when they were focused on "soccer moms" and were inventing their endless claims about the various crazy things Candidate Gore had supposedly said.

We present today's report about their work as an anthropology lesson—as an anthropology lesson concerning human capability, which is remarkably limited. 

The later Wittgenstein took things ginormously farther. As we've noted in the past, everyone has agreed not to look!

(For Professor Horwich's account of that matter, you can just click here.)


  1. Yeah, the New York Times, liberal claptrap, what else is new.

    ...incidentally, dear Bob, we saw The Atlantic apologizing for the COVID hoax. What about you, dear Bob, being part of the Follow-the-Science Faucist mob, as we seem to remember. Are you going to apologize, or pretend it never happened ('down the memory hole', as they say)?

    Knowing you, we'll assume it's the latter. Tsk. Oh well...

    1. Yeah, Bob, stop reading responsible journalism and instead go with "Mao's" sources, like Tucker Carlson and the Santa Monica Observer. Hey Dimbot, your "sources" get a lot more wrong than ours. Have they apologized for all of that like responsible news orgs would?

    2. There is no point in arguing with Mao.

    3. But it's so much fun to point out the obvious flaws in his worldview.

    4. Mao is a Russian troll.

  2. Let's talk about the horserace, and leave the effects of elections on the people for another lifetime.

    @QuickfixA ON TWITTER

  4. Meanwhile, Republicans are being accused of publishing a series of rigged polls intending to show a wave building for Republican candidates. They have done this by over-selecting the core of the Republican demographic base, white upper-class men. These biased Republican polls have created the impression of a swing that has not materialized in the non-biased polling -- making those less biased polls look like outliers.

    The NYT helped promote this story about a Republican wave, just as it is doing the same today with this story about suburban women.

    Media Matters says: "Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s closing argument as the midterms approach is that if Democrats aren’t wiped out, his viewers should interpret the election results as a sign of widespread election fraud by President Joe Biden’s “cabal.” His baseless, conspiratorial claims buttress a widespread right-wing campaign to delegitimize elections in which Republicans lose."

    From Politicus: "The Republicans are rigging polls by only polling an electorate that is older, whiter, and more male than in 2018 and 2020. The pollsters in the GOP polls are surveying an electorate that looks like the demographics of the Republican Party. Thus, the polling is not representative of the composition of the current electorate as it has been in the last two elections.

    Modelers like Nate Silver claim to have accounted for this effect in their modeling, but these polls create a three-fold problem. Silver’s model contains some of these distorted Republican polls, so the average is still distorted. The flood of ballots creates confusion as legitimate polls get buried beneath a cascade of manipulated polling, thus creating a perception of momentum where there is none. The result is that legitimate pollsters look like outliers based on the volume of data.

    The biggest issue is that the corporate media wants drama and a close election, so they parrot the bogus poll results and use them as justification to cover the horse race.

    The same party that claims that elections are rigged is trying to rig the polling so that when Democrats win, the Senate victories will look illegitimate and feed the big lie about stolen elections.

    Rosenberg pointed out that only parties and candidates that are losing engage in these tactics. Republicans are trying to delegitimize polling as part of their efforts to attack democracy.

    Marist recently released a series of polls showing Democrats leading in Arizona and Pennsylvania with definite and likely voters. Walker and Warnock were tied among definite voters in Georgia, and Warnock led among likely voters.

    The polls are all over the map because Republicans are warping the polling averages with disingenuous polls.

    The media will increase the stress level because they only care about drama driving ratings. Still, anyone who claims to know what will happen on Tuesday is either guessing or lying, as control of Congress is legitimately up for grabs."

  5. "We present today's report about their work as an anthropology lesson"

    This isn't an anthropology lesson -- it is a lesson in how partisan politics can corrupt news reporting right before an election.

    The NY Times has ginned up a specious story to support the idea of a building Republican wave. It has been doing that for the past several weeks, in various forms, with equally specious headlines. It has taken Somerby a long time to notice.

    Instead of attributing this to Republican ambitions, Somerby pretends it is just bad reporting, blaming those ivy league educations and female reporters, as usual.

    Why does Somerby cover for Republicans on this? Why doesn't he see the bigger picture of strategy ahead of the election? Plan A is win the election, but Plan B is claim it was stolen, and that is what these NY Times stories have been about. Laying that groundwork. A real media critic would be discussing that -- as several of the liberal blogs who discuss media have been doing.

    The lazy explanation of "anthropology" is not any kind of analysis. It covers for the Republicans by pretending not to notice what they have been doing. It covers for the NYTimes by blaming incompetence (by women) and not deliberate bias. We know Somerby is not stupid, so what kind of game is he playing today? Or did he miss his cue?

  6. "Still coming: Goblins of the disappeared past! A mainstream cable star came close to getting a journalist killed—in 1999!"

    Not a word about this in today's report.

    However, Somerby's explanation about why he was discussing werewolves was so confused that even today it is hard to tell who his means when he talks about them now. Are those female reporters supposed to be the werewolves of London? Is this a trans thing and if so, are they trans-wolves or trans-women or trans-Atlantic?

    1. That’s an old story about Chris Matthews. Lots of bullshit on Fox has come and been forgotten since then. Bob doesn’t care.

  7. Republicans have been saying that those soccer moms are going to swing things for them. What a coincidence that the NY Times goes out and finds 13 of them to substantiate this rumor!

  8. Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog says:

    "I think there are some very good reasons to be pessimistic about the midterms, although I also see hopeful signs -- for instance, strong early voting numbers. But "liberal" pundits, more than in any election in my memory, want Democrats to be demoralized. They're already publishing post-mortems (pre-mortens?) diagnosing a Democratic wipeout that hasn't happened yet, and might not.

    One of the worst examples is this New Yorker piece by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, which is based almost exclusively on Republican spin, none of which Wallace-Wells questions. Why do so many liberal-leaning writers -- and, presumably, their readers -- want to be told that we suck?"

    He reviews the specious polling and the lack of criticism by Wallace-Wells, his credulity, then concludes:

    "This is how the media works: Right-wing outlets offer pure GOP cheerleading and relentless demonization of Democrats, while Republican spin doctors live rent-free in every "liberal" media journalist's head, and stories routinely bash Democrats as a result. So, yes, Democrats might really be doomed on Tuesday, but writers like Benjamin Wallace-Wells would be prepared to say they are whether it's true or not, because GOP manipulators have them so well trained."


    And so it is with Somerby too.

  9. From Simon Rosenberg:

    "Another day of encouraging early vote data:

    - Ds lead 50-40, 2 pts (!) better than this point in 2020. We have a 3.4m natl vote lead

    - Ds net margin over 2020: MI +21, NJ +17, PA +13, WI +13, IA +12, GA +12, IN +10, OH +8, TX +7, MN +7, AZ/WA +4, NC/NE/NV +3, NM +2. 4/

    This early vote data is a *repudiation* of red wave narrative.

    The early vote actually got more D this week. 4 states - AZ, NC, TX, WA - moved 4-5 points more in recent days. Movement is towards us, not Rs.

    Embrace of red wave was wildly premature."

    The 5 special elections showed no red wave.

    1. https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2022/11/early-voting-results-very-encouraging-for-dems

    2. Pollster rankings by accuracy


  10. Saying that someone "holds the key" to an election isn't actually predicting how they will vote. It just means that if enough of them voted a particular way, it might influence the election.

  11. The sad thing is that it shouldn't even be close in the first place.

  12. Here is an interesting discussion of Jon Stewart's media analysis in which he blames Fox News for decreasing public trust in news and journalism, unlike Somerby who blames the Democrats.


    1. The article says Fox News initiated the business model that led to the type of programming that diminished trust and all networks, MSNBC and CNN etc, eventually began using the partisan business model "at the expense of credibility, at the expense of being accurate, and I would argue at the expense of being responsible".

      This is the complaint. They blame Fox News for starting it and all networks for continuing to do it. So no, that article hardly lets liberal media off the hook.

    2. "the liberal media"
      What's that? Is it a media outlet owned by a communist or socialist? Because the Right-wing, corporate-owned media (AKA the media), isn't liberal at all.

    3. The so-called mainstream media is not the "liberal media". The mainstream media include the NY Times, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

      Somerby has tribed to talk about a blue tribe media, but that is his construct and his way of blaming liberals for the behavior of corporate media described by Jon Stewart and others, and started by Fox. But when the NY Times is marching along to a red wave meme created by Republicans, it is inaccurate to call that blue tribe or liberal media, as Somerby keeps trying to do.

    4. Liberal media meaning CNN and Msnbc. They promote the Democratic party in their content. This would all be very clear to you if you had just read the article being discussed before commenting on it.

    5. What do you mean by Red Wave meme? Republicans are going to win the Senate and the House. No question.

    6. Only an idiot would say something that definite about an election before the votes are counted.

    7. Sorry, that's what's going to happen.

    8. It's on purpose. Democrats want to lose. Then you can go back to complaining about how the other side will never let you get anything done. And nothing will ever get done. Same as it has been for years and years and decades and decades. It's just a show. It's a corporate show with actors playing one side, Democrats and actors playing the other side Republicans. It's a show put on by corporations and you were just sitting in your seat watching, so sucked in by the do you think it is real.

    9. 4:58,
      Of course CNN and MSNBC support the Democrats. All corporations support the Democratic Party.
      Have you fallen for "the Others" lies about how the Democratic Party are commie marxists, which hate corporations? If so, great job. You definitely have what it takes to be a political reporter for the NY Times.

  13. "We present today's report about their work as an anthropology lesson—as an anthropology lesson concerning human capability, which is remarkably limited."

    Here is a different view of the anthropology of early human life, written by an actual anthropologist, which suggests it was not limited as Somerby keeps claiming, but diverse and often egalitarian:


  14. "The National Archives is searching for various gifts that world leaders gave to the United States during the Trump presidency that are now missing."

  15. "Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert warning of the threat of disinformation spread by “dark web media channels, online journals, messaging applications, spoofed websites, emails, text messages and fake online personas.” The disinformation could include claims that voting data or results had been hacked or compromised.

    Editors’ Picks

    On ‘S.N.L.’, President Biden Has Two Words on the Midterms: ‘Big Yikes’

    The 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

    On Twitter, Who Needs a Check Mark When You Can Have a Rat?
    The agencies urged people not to like, discuss or share posts online from unknown or distrustful sources. They did not identify specific efforts, but social media platforms and researchers who track disinformation have recently uncovered a variety of campaigns by Russia, China and Iran."

    So, stop encouraging Mao and Cecelia.

    1. Sorry, forgot to edit out the ads. Here is the link:


  16. "Each stop of the ReAwaken America Tour is part conservative Christian revival, part QAnon expo and part political rally. It features big name stars in the MAGA galaxy, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Trump adviser Roger Stone and former President Donald Trump’s son, Eric. There are meet and greets, a buffet and, lately, baptisms and the casting out of demons."

    I predict that Somerby will eventually wind up telling us that Roger Stone believes his own lies.

  17. White powder sent to GOP Keri Lake, NC GOP rep’s house shot up, GOP woman strangled by Hochul supporter.

    That’s just today.

    1. But is there violent rhetoric from top Democrats inciting such violence on the left, as exists on the right? Note that none of these attacks succeeded.

    2. The Hochul rally was disrupted by Zeldin protesters. The woman claims her sign was taken and that a man tried to strangle her. The video shows him with one hand trying to push her back. His hand is placed just below her neck, in the upper center of her chest. He is not shown with two hands around her neck, as would occur during strangling. Police came but no one was arrested.

    3. No mail delivery on Sunday (today). Two envelopes were found with "suspicious" powder on Saturday at Lake HQ. No evidence who it came from or what it was yet.

      The shooting in NC was last month and it did not occur at the GOP Representative's house but at the home of his parents, where no one was hurt but a laundry-room window was broken. The GOP candidate, Pat Harringon, runs a gun-manufacturing business. It is unclear what happened or whether anyone knew about any connection with Harrington's campaign, but people are permitted to hunt in their back yards in NC.

      Notice how this commenter has conflated all of these minor incidents into "that's just today" to make it seem like Republicans are being targeted by Dems. That's a form of lying too.

    4. Don't confuse me with the Democratic Party. I'm the one who thinks killing Republicans is the way to save the USA.
      BTW, here's your chance to badmouth the Democrats for not being smart.

    5. Anonymous 3:53pm, I’ve pushed people in my life.

      As a kid, it was my brothers getting in my face about something. In school, a few mouthy teenaged bitches who mistook me for a Princess. As a woman, the occasional overly familiar male.

      I have never pushed anyone by gripping them around the neck. I’ve never seen anyone “pushed” this way.

      I don’t care who this guy is and I don’t care about his politics. He’s not right, and he needs to go to jail.