What race is ABC's The Note watching?

By Eric Boehlert
Published October 31, 2004 9:23PM (EST)

When it comes to ABC's The Note, War Room has always been baffled why the online daily must-read treats the New York Post like a serious news outlet and links to its political reports as if they were anything more than warmed over GOP spin. But today, War Room is even more puzzled by The Note's overly generous lead suggesting the Bush team is "understandably bullish" heading into the final days of the campaign, and that's its "swagger" is not "without justification." (The rhetoric is reminiscent of the Beltway spin so prevalent during the closing days of the 2000 election, when mainstream pundits seemed eager to predict a clear Bush win.)

If the swagger talk weren't bad enough, The Note then falls down and simply repeats GOP talking points: "In the trend of the national popular vote (as measured by public opinion surveys) and the tilt of the Electoral College map, all the President's men (and Karen, Nicolle, Mary, Jennifer, etc.) like what they see." Sound familiar? It should. On the eve of the 2000 vote Karl Rove told reporters his candidate would win in a landslide and had him making last-minute trips to states he lost by double digits. But hey, if all the president's men like what they see, they must be telling the truth.

Taking a look at the national vote, "as measured by public opinion surveys," is there any proof to back up the Note's Bush-friendly spin? A quick check of four major daily tracking polls -- Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, Washington Post, Zogby, and Rasmussen -- show none of them are trending in Bush's favor. In fact in the Fox News poll, Bush's five-point lead has collapsed in four days and he's now tied with Kerry. War Room's not saying Kerry has the race won. But to suggest, at this stage, and in the face of the current polls, that the Bush/Cheney team enters the final 48 hours with momentum on its side strikes us as wishful Republican thinking adopted as The Note analysis.

Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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