Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dogs, Not Barking

Items that are not in the news, which is newsworthy.

1. I did an item on this last week, but I'll repeat it here: the debate over debates. Didn't happen this time, or at least whatever did happen didn't get any publicity. Didn't really happen last cycle, if I recall correctly. It used to be a huge deal; it still is, in many statewide races. It's just amazing how institutionalized the presidential general election debates have become.

2. Coalition deaths are way down in Afghanistan. I can't recall any reporting on this at all. The end of the surge received some publicity, but not casualty rates dropping. Through the end of September last year there had been 470 coalition fatalities; that's down to 345 at the same point this year. It was 547 in 2010. This year will almost certainly have the fewest American and coalition deaths combined for Afghanistan and Iraq since 2002. No, it's not peace, and the drone war continues, but it strikes me as something worth noting.

3. A double one, in opposite directions. On the one hand, there was very little evidence of a surge for Democratic House candidates during  the post-convention period when Barack Obama and Democratic Senate candidates were doing very well. On the other hand, so far there's been no evidence of Republican Senate candidates benefiting from Romney's post-debate bounce. In both cases, note that it might be happening but we just don't know it.

4. I'm beginning to think that conservatives have really given up on the idea that Democrats are hell bent on bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. I guess there's more exciting stuff out there. I have to say I'm disappointed.


  1. On #3:
    -In Mass, not enough data to say much, but the latest data point is Brown +3, whereas before that it seemed more like Warren +3.
    -In Ohio, it looked like Brown by around 8 before; now Brown +1 in latest polls.

    That said, looking at all the other close ones, I'm having trouble picking up anything like those. Could easily be sampling problems (as in: anything can happen in one sample) going on, and MA and OH are molehills or everything else is a mountain.

    But, I can't see consistent evidence either against or for Rep Senate candidates benefitting.

  2. Palin is approaching dogs not barking status, hooray!

  3. I have to say, I miss the Fairness Doctrine. As a child, I was always sort of amazed by the pomp and ceremony of two opinions being presented in nightly-news segments. Two arguments, opposing, trying to persuade me.

  4. The reduction in coalition deaths in Afghanistan could be a consequence of the reduction in coalition troops in Afghanistan.

  5. I have actually heard several news stories lately about coalition deaths in Afghanistan--mainly noting how many of them were caused by Afghanis who were working on our side. It's not the same story, but it still addresses the issue of coalition deaths.

    1. I'd love to know how press coverage per death, to put it bluntly, has changed over the years. Of course, there's an argument that there's more news value in the recent insider attacks, but I do wonder if people know deaths are down.

      (And yup, it certainly could be a consequence of having fewer targets over there, although I get the sense that it's more than that.)

    2. There are a couple of competing theories behind the so-called "green on blue" attacks. One is that the surge was working, so the Taliban changed their tactics to avoid direct confrontations and to undermine the US strategy of turning responsibility over from the US army to the Afghan army by infiltrating the Afghan army and starting fights between the two. The other, more recent theory is that the more modern, anti-Taliban Afghans are feeling abandoned because the Americans are leaving them in the lurch and they're taking their frustrations out on individual soldiers. That second argument appeared recently at ForeignPolicy.com. I don't know how much evidence there is for either of them.


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