Thursday, February 15, 2007

Odds on Presidential Candidates Discussed In NYT

The New York Times continues to display depth in its political coverage that is matched in no other newspaper. It makes the New York newspaper must reading at an immensely important period in our national life.

Wednesday, in a column in the Business section by David Leonhardt, the precision as to projecting voting results incorporated on the Web site was discussed, and it is fascinating indeed. By using the wisdom of the market, so to speak, in political analysis, this Dublin,, Ireland-based service was able, in November, hours in advance of the American TV networks, to project Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. It had much more information than the networks on how the voting was actually going.

Odds are, as Leonhardt writes, that Intrade is projecting the likely 2008 election winner with greater chance of success than anyone else, although, of course, events unforeseen at this time may materially affect the odds between now and the election.

Still, the current odds are fascinating. Intrade currently gives Sen. Hillary Clinton a 49% chance of winning the Democratic nomination, and a 26% chance of winning the election. Of other announced or possible Democratic candidates, Sen. Barack Obama is given a 20% chance of the nomination and a 13% chance of winning the election, former Sen. John Edwards is given a 13% chance of the nomination and a 9% chance of being elected, and former Sen. Al Gore is given a 9% chance of the nomination and a 7% chance of being elected.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain is given a 37% chance of winning the GOP nomination and a 16% chance of being elected President. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is given a 24% chance of the GOP nomination and a 14% chance of being elected, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is given a 19% chance of being nominated and a 9% chance of being elected.

As of the major candidates listed, Intrade puts the combined odds on a Democrat winning the election at 55% and a Republican at 39% at this time.

Also, today, the New York Times reports on an attempted smear on the Internet against Sen. Obama -- an attempt resisted successfully, thank goodness, by a federal attorney, to register a trademark depicting Obama as "Obama bin Laden" and his wife as a veil-wearing companion.

This demonstrates why the Internet is so dangerous. It allows scoundrels throughout the world to convey nonsense, sell pornography, entice the young and innocent into terrible relationships, and spread scams and prejudice all over the world. Even though I blog frequently on the Internet, I can't say I like it.

The story also shows how courageous Obama is by even running for President, bidding to become the first black major party nominee. Anyone who doesn't think that Obama is exposing not only his reputation but his personal safety in this effort doesn't give enough credence to hatemongers such as the man trying to peddle this scurrilous junk.

Not far behind the NYT in its political coverage is the Washington Post. A Los Angeleno, Matthew Mosk, grandson of the late California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk, has been assigned by the Post to cover the monetary aspects, the contributions, to the Presidential race, and Mosk's initial reports have been extremely informative.

Mosk worked for awhile, when he was first out of Dartmouth College, where he had been editor of the student newspaper, for the Los Angeles Times in Ventura County, but Times editors didn't have the good sense to keep him on the staff beyond a two-year trial. Since then, Mosk has risen steadily as the Maryland statehouse correspondent of the Baltimore Sun and the Post, prior to being awarded his present assignment.

Although Michael Finnegan, Mark Barabak and others are doing a credible job of political coverage for the Los Angeles Times, it is already clear that LAT political coverage, under Tribune ownership, will not be as extensive as either that of the NYT or the Post.


I believe great newspapers must remain primarily print newspapers, despite the increasing importance of newspaper Web sites. So I have to believe that talk show host Hugh Hewitt's blog calling for the L.A. Times to put more emphasis on its Web site than its newspaper is not good advice. I wonder whether Hewitt's ideas would not serve the present Tribune executives, who have been working assiduously to wreck the future of the L.A. Times.



Anonymous Matt Weinstock said...

Perhaps Intrade is more interesting and less wordy than the Nuevo Jork Times.

2/15/2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the most dreadful piece of writing in the LA Times print edition. It was a wordy piece on actor Hugh Grant, a faux-academic treatment of his work. But truly, the style of writing was so full of affectation it meant absolutely nothing. All I could think of when I read it was "edit, edit, edit, get to the point and get rid of trying to sound so smart."

As for the writing on the OP-Ed pags... well, you've said it all before, Ken.

The LA Times has put a lot into The Envelope blog, where what they've got in the person of Elizabeth Snead is nothing more than a woman writing with a nom de plume various tidbits of gossip. If that's the future of the LA Times, then we all might as well start ordering the NY Times.

As for blogging...there are some good things there, but by and large it's the domain where writing, stories and ideas are not put under any scrutiny. So most of it is blarney, which makes it perfect for people like Hugh Hewitt.

But the more troubling thing is when the habit of blogging without oversight gets is supported by a newspaper, as they have done with Elizabeth Snead.

2/16/2007 9:00 AM  

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