Fox News is Right For Once in Calling Richardson Number Three in Democratic Race and Romney Number One in GOP Race


I’ve criticized Fox News so many times here that I feel, in the spirt of being fair and balanced, I should defend them after seeing a liberal blog attack them in a rare case where Fox is right. Newshounds criticizes the Political Derby segment (video above) because their assessment of the horse race differs from the national polls. Newshounds particularly protests that Bill Richardson and not John Edwards is placed in fourth place despite Edwards being third in the national polls, and that Mitt Romney is placed first in the GOP race despite ranking between third and fifth in most national polls.

During the segment, Jason Wright explains that he looks at factors beyond the national polls. This is a perfectly sensible thing to do. National polls this far before the primaries begin have had very little predictive value historically unless there was a clear and undisputed favorite such as an incumbent. During the fall of 2003, John Kerry even trailed Al Sharpton in some national polls. The nomination is determined by a series of state events and, as we saw after Kerry’s Iowa victory, early victories have considerable influence on the subsequent national polls. Most voters do not even make up their minds until the final couple of days before voting, as was seen in Kerry’s move from fourth place to first place in Iowa over the final ten days in 2004. Besides, there would be be little point in having a segment predicting the race if they were required to stick to the rankings of the national polls.

Not only is Fox correct in looking at factors beyond the national polls, there rankings are quite reasonable. I’ve considered Richardson to be the number three candidate in terms of chances to win for quite a while based upon factors including fund raising and the trends in the polls. Edwards has benefited from name recognition but the more many voters see him the less they like him while the reverse is true of Richardson. Edwards is also relying on a risky strategy of following John Kerry’s path of gaining momentum from an Iowa victory. As Edwards has virtually lived in Iowa since 2005, anything less than a landslide win is likely to give more momentum to whoever comes in second. Even if Edwards wins in Iowa, he is not as likely as Kerry to be able to follow this with a win in New Hampshire where his populist platform is not likely to be received as well as in Iowa.

Fox News and I are hardly the only ones to note this trend. James Boyce recently picked Richardson as the number two candidate. Some predict that Richardson will even win the Iowa caucus, which would not only establish Richardson as a major candidate but also eliminate Edwards from the race. The Concord Monitor has also noted that Richardson is on the way up while support for Edwards is falling.

The Republican race is very difficult to predict right now, and Fox certainly has a case for believing that Rudy Giuliani will not win the nomination, especially as more Republicans discover his past statements on abortion and gay rights. Romney is well positioned to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, which could easily lead to victory. Placing Giuliani second also runs counter to recent suspicions of a bias in his favor due to his ties to Roger Ailes. With Thompson not even officially in the race it is even harder to predict how he will do, and a third place ranking at this time looks reasonable.

This is not to say that my rankings or Fox’s rankings will correctly predict the outcome. Such predictions are based upon conditions and trends at present and a lot can change between now and January. Edwards could still wind up in third place, and possibly even win, and Giuliani might win the Republican nomination. However, if forced to predict now I agree with ranking Edwards fourth and Romney first in their races.

Wright also expressed the view that Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama might be harming their husbands and that “the more Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards run their yappers, the better Hillary looks.” I agree with him with regards to Elizabeth Edwards following two serious gaffes. Not long after pondering whether John is at a disadvantage for being a white male, Elizabeth hurt John’s chances of getting the support of all us voters who do not meet her definition of an “actual Democrat.” My only real disagreement with Wright is over his belief that Michelle Obama has harmed her husband. I can hardly find serious fault with a commentator who I agree with on three out of four controversial statements.

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  1. 1
    Jimmy says:

    With all the BS Fox broadcasts, this is the best they can come up with to complain about? I don’t care what they say in their analysis segments. I’m more concerned about the fake news they promote.

  2. 2
    Cure America says:

    Anyone who throws enough darts hits a bullseye once in a while. I wouldn’t give them much credit. lol

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, that’s why I said “right for once”in the title.

    To be fair I suspect that the majority of the statements made on Fox are factually correct. The problem comes from the portions which are not correct, or where they are selective in the facts they present to mislead viewers.

    Still, as Fox comes under (justified) attack so often, I thought it was worth mentioning a rare case where Fox was right and those criticizing them are wrong. Fox is going to be right once in a while, and their critics can even be wrong once in a while.

  4. 4
    STEPHEN FOX says:


    SANTA FE, NM 87501

  5. 5
    Liberal Journal says:

    I agree with 100% on this one Ron. Michelle Obama hasn’t hurt her husband one lick. Elizabeth has made certain questionable statements like “I can’t make John black.”

    Richardson is the number three candidate. I’m not as high on him as you are, but one thing people haven’t looked at is how well produced his TV ads are. That could cut through all the mess in Iowa (Kerry passed Dean with some Vietnam-related ads in 04), and maybe other states.

    Romney does look strong in the first 2 early states, but he’s really had a tough go of it in the south. The mormon thing must really be hurting him. I wouldn’t rule him out completely, though. I think the nomination could be Fred Thompson’s if he doesn’t make any gaffes. It looks like Newt is giving him some advice. But there is still a lot of room for fluctuation in the GOP primary.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Republican race is difficult to predict at this time. I think anyone, including Fox, would be justified in predicting the top three in any order at this time, and there is no reason to think that current order in the national polls reflects there chances.

    The ads may have helped Kerry in 2004 but what really made the difference was the quality of his ground game in Iowa, which was largely under the radar. Some suspected, with Iowa journalists like Yepsin predicting Kerry would do better than expected. I happened to talk to Teresa Heinz Kerry when she was campaigning in Michigan just before the Iowa caucus. She was talking victory, and in retrospect I’m not sure that it was simply the optimism of a campaign spouse.

    Regarding Elizabeth Obama, personally I’m bothered more by here statement on actual Democrats, which included writing off business owners. As a business owner, and someone who doesn’t go along with her current idea of actual Democrats, I was imagining how many other people would not feel comfortable with the Edwards in the White House.

    Not only does Richardson have well done ads, he looks great on the stump and in prepared speeches. Those who have only seen him in debates, as well as in his awful appearance on Meet the Press, might underestimate him due to not seeing him campaigning. He’s even leading the polls in Iowa among independents who plan to vote in the Democratic caucus.

  7. 7
    Jimmy says:

    Edwards has no chance, but I also think Richardson blew it with his comment that homosexuality was a choice.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    Richardson was certainly wrong in his science, but at least he was correct in his principles of respecting their rights regardless of whether homosexuality is biological or a choice. From a political viewpoint that is what is important.

    While it might not excuse making such an error in the debate, he also corrected this error in post debate statements as I discussed here:

    Ultimately this comes down to the fact that none of the candidates are perfect and we must ultimately vote on the one who is the best of those running. At present I remain undecided primarily beteen Richardson and Obama, but I’m following the other candidats also and things can change by this winter.

    Edwards chances are very poor but you can’t totally write him off yet. There is a chance he could still win big in Iowa, and a chance that this could allow him to either win in New Hampshire or come close enough that he remains a major contender. I doubt it will play out that way, but it could happen. After all, look at how things looked for Kerry in the fall of 2003.

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