No, the Elite Media Doesn’t Get To Decide the Election

The Beltway media too often overindulges in its smug estimations of its own importance.

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In this April 19, 2010 file photo, Mark Halperin, center, political analyst and Editor-at-Large for "Time" magazine, is shown during at National Media Symposium in the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center for Education & Outreach, in Oklahoma City. MSNBC suspended political analyst Halperin for an off-color remark about President Barack Obama on "Morning Joe" Thursday, June 30, 2011.

I have as much respect as the next person for the power of the media and conventional wisdom (OK, maybe a bit less), but too often the Beltway press overindulges in its smug estimations of its own importance. Time's Mark Halperin was guilty of that sin this morning on Morning Joe.

Appearing on the MSNBC wake-up talker, Halperin was asked about the state of the race. His response was that insiders in both parties are starting to think that the president's enduring, if narrow lead in the enough states to win the Electoral College is prompting people to conclude that Obama is likely to win. (This is not an unreasonable conclusion.) He continues:

Right now, there's a danger for Governor Romney that elites are starting to think, in the last 24 hours, that these leads are, as the Obama campaign has said for a long time, small but persistent and consistent. And, I think, it may not affect the coverage that much but there's a bit of a tipping point here. Romney needs to go into the weekend, for his own sake, with the race tied in the conventional wisdom rather than what some people are now thinking, that these polls suggest the president will win this with the Electoral College dominance that he's had.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Really? With less than a week left the settling of conventional wisdom in Obama's favor is going to do … what? "It may not effect the coverage" in Halperin's own estimation. So Romney needs the race to be tied so … his partisans can feel comfortable going to Gang of 500 cocktail parties this weekend? Or is the belief that Romney voters in Ohio, when they get the get-out-the-vote call on Sunday, will politely explain that they read in Mike Allen's "Playbook" (whose second item today is Halperin's Morning Joe appearance) about the elite media concluding their guy is doomed so they're not going to vote on Tuesday? Or that the undecideds in Iowa are anxiously awaiting for the Washington media to settle on a predicted outcome so they can execute it?

Well I can take comfort in one thing: Given Morning Joe's viewership, only about a half-million people probably saw Halperin.

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