A few weeks ago, Dick Morris, the sleazy Republican consultant, wrote an entire print column built around a single observation: the economy lost 30,000 health care jobs in the month of August. There was, however, a small problem: the economy actually gained 30,000 health care jobs in August. Morris’ entire indictment was based on numbers he misunderstood.
This week, it happened again. Here’s the lede in Morris’ new print column, published yesterday.
Behind the president’s whining to the Black Caucus, begging them to “quit grumbling,” is a decline in his personal popularity among African-American voters that could portend catastrophe for his fading reelection chances.
According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, his favorability rating among African-Americans has dropped off a cliff, plunging from 83 percent five months ago to a mere 58 percent today — a drop of 25 points, a bit more than a point per week!
If the president’s favorability rating among African Americans really had slipped to 58%, that would be a pretty significant development. But once again, Morris based an entire column on numbers he chose not to read carefully enough.
What the poll actually found is that President Obama enjoys an 86% favorability rating among African Americans — 28 points higher than Morris’ column claimed.
How’d he screw this up? The poll found that 58% of African Americans have a “strongly favorable” view of Obama, but that’s only part of the basis of a favorability rating. Morris apparently noticed one number, brushed past the relevant detail, and published a claim that’s plainly not true.
The point here isn’t that the president can ignore some of his key supporters, and win a second term with his current levels of support. Clearly Obama has a lot of work to do. The point is, The Hill keeps publishing Dick Morris claims that are demonstrably wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion — the columnist is making specific arguments about numbers that aren’t connected to reality.
Indeed, Morris said Obama was doing well when his favorability rating among African Americans was 83%. But right now, they’re 86%. By Morris’ reasoning, Obama is doing great with this constituency.
Also note, this wasn’t just some side detail Morris flubbed — just as with the clearly dishonest health care column a few weeks ago, the columnist is building entire print pieces around basic statistics that don’t exist.
Either Dick Morris can’t read or he’s assuming his readers won’t bother to check. Either way, maybe it’s time for The Hill‘s editors to start taking a closer look at his pieces.