Although the latest piece from the Associated Press attempts to throw at least a bone of coverage to Independent voters with the 2012 election coming up, it is riddled with superficial analysis and even unfairly ignores a number of critical factors.
"In the first presidential election since the Tea Party's emergence, Republican candidates are drifting rightward on a range of issues, even though more centrist stands might play well in the 2012 general election," the lede states.
The AP goes on to say that many of the Republican candidates, both declared and potential ones, have espoused more liberal positions than they do now in light of the independently-driven Tea Party movement's emergence. Issues include energy, healthcare, and taxes, among others.
While they might be right about this fact, and go so far as to point out specific individuals in the Republican field who have shifted right on certain positions, they do so while also essentially and prematurely predicting that the Independent demographic will deliver President Obama a second term. Furthermore, by lumping together all Republican candidates, the AP doesn't include analysis on Republican candidates who unapologetically espouse not-so-conservative positions (Newt Gingrinch on climate change, anyone?).
"But the eventual [Republican] nominee will face President Barack Obama in the 2012 general election, when independent voters appear likely to be decisive players once again. These independents may be far less enamored of hard-right positions than are the GOP activists who will wield power in the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary and other nominated contests."
The AP's prediction comes as the Republican field of candidates has yet to be set in place with more potential candidates speculated to join in.
As for the much-esteemed virtue of journalistic balance, the entire piece basically calling the 2012 election for President Obama this early in the game devotes a mere one sentence to inconsistencies in his policies. Cited by the news agency is the President's backing away from increasing payroll and income taxes on the wealthy. Ignored by the AP in their one sentence summary is his failure to pass immigration reform when he had more than enough votes to do so, and to not raise taxes on any Americans making less than $250,000 a year. In addition, portrayed as a more anti-war, constitutionally accountable candidate in '07-'08, Obama has doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan, launched a record number of drone strikes into Pakistan, maintained nearly 50,000 troops in Iraq, attacked Libya without Congressional approval, extended the Patriot Act, continued Rendition, and kept Guantanamo Bay open.
The biggest thumbing of the nose to Independent voters is that while the AP chose to cite the Pew Research Center's analysis recognizing the growth of self-proclaimed conservatives across the country, it didn't cite the fact that Independents are a complex group of individuals that can be split into more than one group (as noted in depth by Pew and as covered by myself).
How then are Independent voters supposed to trust mainstream news publications during the 2012 election season if coverage of the single most important bloc is pitifully oversimplified? Furthermore, what does the AP's latest piece say about how registered voters of the two major parties are receiving their information to make informed political decisions?
It's time the mainstream media did a better job for the American people.