Here is an object lesson in how the perceptions of low-information voters are shaped to the disadvantage of Republican and conservative candidates.
In the daily email I receive from EOnline.com (subscribing to the web site’s missives is a necessary evil), the fifth item listed read: “Scott Walker Announces 2016 Presidential Run.” (Curiously, the web version of that email no longer links to the Walker item, perhaps indicating that someone at the web site is unhappy that it gave him any notice at all.) Two paragraphs near the end of the Eonline.com writeup tie back to the New York Times hit piece Tim Graham at NewsBusters critiqued in detail. Rebecca Macatee's writeup makes it appear as if the Walker campaign itself is seriously concerned about how the nation perceives him (link is in original; bolds are mine):
Scott Walker Announces 2016 Presidential Run
... So is this 47-year-old politician a frontrunner to win the Republican nomination? That depends on who you ask and how his campaign goes from here! Per the New York Times, Walker’s advisers are aware voters often describe him as “authentic,” “real” and “approachable.” What they’d like, however, is for the presidential hopeful to be described as “smart” and “sophisticated.”
“Scott is working on that,” Ed Goeas, a senior adviser to Walker, told the New York Times. “Look, ‘approachable’ is worth its weight in gold in politics. ‘Smart’ is something voters look for in legislators who craft policy. But Scott is preparing hard to talk about every issue.”
It's almost as Team Walker believes that "authentic," "real," and "approachable" need to be replaced with "smart" and "sophisticated." If she meant otherwise, Macatee should have included the word "also."
Macatee actually made the first three paragraphs of the execrable writeup at the Times by Patrick Healy worse.
The original reads as follows:
After listening to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin as he has traveled the country preparing his campaign for president, which officially begins on Monday, admiring voters most often describe him as “authentic,” “real” and “approachable,” Mr. Walker’s advisers say.
Two words these voters do not use about him? “Smart” and “sophisticated.”
“Scott is working on that,” said Ed Goeas, a veteran Republican pollster and a senior adviser to Mr. Walker. “Look, ‘approachable’ is worth its weight in gold in politics. ‘Smart’ is something voters look for in legislators who craft policy. But Scott is preparing hard to talk about every issue.”
Macatee builds on Healy's completely unsupported assertion that absolutely no voters describe Walker as "smart” or “sophisticated" (that's what writing "do not use" asserts) by claiming that his advisers buy into into the idea that both terms present a problem.
It is not at all clear from Healy's vague assemblage of verbiage that Walker's advisers buy into either.
It’s possible that Walker’s team believes they need to work on “smart.” But it’s also quite possible that senior adviser Ed Goeas told Times reporter Patrick Healy that Walker is plenty smart, but that the adjective is more important in voters’ minds when they evaluate legislators. Readers will also see that Healy did not note any direct response to “sophisticated,” even though Macatee at Eonline.com specifically claimed that the Times piece was written up that way.
Healy never said which “that” Goeas said “Scott is working on." Was is “Smart?” “Sophisticated?” Both? (If it was both, wouldn’t Goeas have said “he’s working on them?”) Or was it something else totally unrelated? Healy doesn’t tell us; thanks to his (deliberately?) sloppy writeup, readers simply cannot determine “that” with certainty.
But Rebecca Macatee clearly thought she could.
So low-information voters who have never heard of Scott Walker are learning that his own people are worried that he's not seen as smart or sophisticated — based on a completely unsupported and unsupportable assertion by a New York Times reporter that "(no) voters describe him" as either.
This is how the low-information battlespace gets prepared to Republicans' and conservatives' detriment.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.