Most of the mainstream coverage of last night’s debate that I have seen is poor, largely because it unduly emphasizes the role played by the abortion issue. The Associated Press’s account is typical. It is titled, “GOP Debate Focuses on Iraq War, Abortion,” and the first seven paragraphs refer only to the participants’ stances on abortion.
I think this emphasis is ludicrously out of step with the actual concerns of Republican primary voters, but very much in tune with the stereotype of Republicans that the MSM seek to convey. (It was no accident that one of Chris Matthews’ questions was about Terry Schiavo!)
There are of course Republican voters who are deeply concerned about the social issues. But in my judgment, national security is far and away the biggest issue for Republican primary voters as a whole, with taxes and spending second and the social issues, of which abortion is one, third. Press coverage suggesting that last night’s event focused largely on abortion give a grossly distorted view of that event and of the Republican candidates, but that is the impression that the large majority of Americans who didn’t see the debate, but did see newspaper headlines, are likely to come away with.
ONE MORE THING: To the extent that there are single-issue, socially-oriented voters in the Republican primaries, immigration will swing considerably more votes than abortion.
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