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.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.