Since Democrats outperformed expectations on another Election Day, the traditional media has been looking for ways to manage its grief and lock down the narrative that Democrats are in big trouble. New York Times reporter Peter Baker dug into the Virginia election results and really went for it on Thursday:
Has this professional political reporter never encountered a close election before? Or familiarized himself with the concept that winning a close election is still winning? Nah, Baker just can’t handle the fact that voters created a narrative he didn’t control, a narrative very different from the one he and the Times have been pushing.
Consider this, too: It’s true that Democrats had a couple of narrow wins in Virginia on Tuesday. But so did Republicans. As Baker points out, one Democratic victory in the state House was by just 830 votes. That was in the 21st District, where Democrat Josh Thomas beat Republican John Stirrup by 51.48% to 48.33%—not razor-thin when you consider percentages. Meanwhile, unremarked on by Baker, in the 82nd District, Republican Kim Taylor defeated Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams by 228 votes, 50.32% to 49.51%. In the 57th District, Republican David Owen beat Democrat Susanna Gibson by 966 votes, but with a tighter percentage spread than Thomas’ win: 51.16% to 48.4%. (And that was the race where Republicans had to send thousands of revenge porn-themed mailers to pull out a win.)
Similarly, in the Virginia Senate, where Baker noted that 1,923 votes in a single district would have reversed a Democratic win, there were districts where Republicans won by 1,684 votes and 1,528 votes.
Baker’s take is that Democrats almost didn’t win and it would have changed the narrative dramatically if a small number of votes had flipped. But it’s equally true to say that Democrats were remarkably close to an even bigger win—and it’s obvious that Baker went looking for close races won by Democrats to further his preferred narrative, ignoring data that didn’t fit his case.
Baker isn’t alone in continuing to frantically push the “Democrats are still in big trouble” narrative. NBC News used a series of unnamed Democratic operatives to push the favored narrative that Democrats may have won but Biden is still in huge trouble, with the added twist that those unnamed Democrats are annoyed that the Biden campaign “wants to own” Tuesday’s good results. Former White House chief of staff Ron Klain pushed back:
Having it both ways is exactly what the media demands, though.
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