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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Slate Edition)

Why friends don't let friends read Slate: time to call "bullshit" on John Dickerson:

The McCain campaign is unusually upbeat. Does it have reason to be?: Where do we plot the mindset of the McCain campaign on a continuum that stretches from deceit (aides know they're losing badly and they're play-acting) to Drudge-like self-delusion (they're mindlessly clutching at, and believing in, any glimmer of positive news) to truth (there actually are real signs of hope)?... [T]he McCain campaign is somewhere between self-delusion and truth.

In McCain's most optimistic scenario, he loses a few Republican states like New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Iowa. He just has to hope that he doesn't lose too many of them. (Losing a biggie like Florida or Ohio would be curtains.) He could make up for a small loss of GOP states with a victory in Pennsylvania or New Hampshire.... The McCain path to victory relies heavily on the campaign's pollster, Bill McInturff, who is conducting surveys in battleground states every day.... McInturff has often been a bit of a wet blanket. Whenever they've felt good, he's been the voice of caution, explaining that the landscape was bleaker than they thought. Recently, though, his internal campaign updates have actually been eagerly anticipated: The subject line of a recent one said "a memo you will want to read."

Could McInturff be blowing pretty rings of imaginary smoke? Perhaps. But he has a good reputation for honesty.... McInturff released a memo yesterday that outlined his case for why it's still possible for McCain to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Here's what he sees: His poll of battleground states shows Obama with such a small lead, it's within the margin of error, which means it's effectively tied...

And here I call bullshit. Within the "margin of error" means that there is a greater than 5% chance that the guy the poll says is behind is actually ahead. But only a John Dickerson would say that a side that has a 15% chance of victory is actually even.

Dickerson goes on:

In Iowa, [McIntuff] sees the race tightening to within a few points. In Pennsylvania, it's in single digits (though that could mean nine). (The average of other pollsters say McCain is down by a dozen in Iowa and Pennsylvania)...

And here I call "bullshit" again. Pollsters know that there is information in other polls. When pollsters tell journalists like Dickerson "look at my pollls: don't look at any of the others" they aren't engaging in self-delusion, they are engaging in deceit.