Campaign Issue Mish-Mosh

Rodney Clough
3 min readNov 11, 2022

Above: Steve Kornacki. Photo courtesy of Vox

Campaign Coverage Night: Fox News felt angry… MSNBC felt like a chummy frat party…the polls were having a 2016 moment…

November 8

Except for Steve Kornacki doing Shakespearean length “updates” in front of “the big board,” everyone on MSNBC seemed to be having too much fun. There were the liberal establishment stalwarts, led by Rachel Maddow and there was a spin-off coterie of political spinning‘young Turks,’ presided over by Chris Hayes.

Over on Fox News, Carlson and company were looking for election tampering conspiracies. Where were the foreign actors, the guys in robes, George Soros? Where were the ninjas?

The following day with Kornacki again at the Big Board, trying to fill air time with “too early to tells,” the mood on MSNBC grew less chummy. There were scores to settle. First, there was the cancelling of The Cross Connection four days earlier by MSNBC, and a lingering pall that had not cleared. (Cite Willes).

Next there was the kerfuffle over how the DNC and the Senate and House Democratic Campaign Committees were distributing funds to specific campaigns. Maddow and company were beginning to sound more like sales account bosses and less like commentators, schooling the public on the vicissitudes of campaign fund raising: ‘well, campaign funds do not grow on trees.’ The irony of these sidebar discussions was that the House Democrat Campaign Chair Sean Patrick Maloney failed to be re-elected, due largely to a redistricting of his constituency.

And then there were the NBC polls which had promised a “red wave,” barely ten days earlier.

These were the same polls which had cited “the economy,” “inflation,” as the number one concern of voters. No context given, let alone the absence of logic — how is one supposed to vote for a negative posing as a neutral, with no conditional in sight? One of the Maddow Campaign Coverage team, former RNC chair Michael Steele, would have none of it:

‘Like I said three… four weeks ago, and I was laughed out of the studio for saying this, the number one concern was goin’ to be democracy, not the economy, not — with respect to my colleague (gesturing towards Joy Reid) — abortion. The number one concern was goin’ to be democracy, ‘cause without it, the ‘economy’ is off the table. Abortion is not up for discussion.’

Steele was in good company. The only high-ranking Democrat who stressed that the 2022 election would be about ‘democracy,’ was President Biden, who repeated this proposition seven days earlier in Philadelphia.

For Steele, the voter returns and exit profiles were vindication for his transformation from Republican to “Undecided.”

For Biden his prognosis days earlier was a “win-win,” borne out by the returns. Not only did Biden in his speech propose a ‘job well done’ — the economy was being bolstered by Federal dollars returning to citizens’ pocketbooks — but the President repeated his advocacy for democracy and the ‘rule of law.’ Again, both “wins” accomplished without the help of ‘his Republican colleagues.’

This would not be the “last election.” but ‘the first.’

Polls try to predict outcomes, and here’s the ‘mish mosh:’ the forced choice nature of polling or sampling, precludes exactly the type of reasoning Steele presented, what he calls ‘connecting the dots:’

Consider that issues such as abortion and climate justice can be connected to the economy further demonstrate that for a growing majority of voters, substance matters. As one sees youth and women dominating the ranks of new voters, one seizes on the idea that when challenged, expanding the notion of a free and just society prevails:

In other words, keep democracy alive.

Perhaps Steele is onto something if one considers the reasoning behind the accepted nonsense of forced choice polling. Is there a purpose to sampling political hot buttons of voters other than to propose a collective aversion to politics? Does it matter that voters sample their feelings throughout the political issue linkage and that polls fail to capture their passions?

Are polls accomplishing anything other than obscuring what binds these issues? Does this reluctance to probe voters’ collective pathos leave the audience with a sense of understanding of where America is headed?

The pain of divisiveness is felt behind closed doors. To report on it as accepted phenomena doesn’t lessen the pain, rather obscures its grip.

November 11



Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.