Fox News has recently tried to spin GOP voter dissatisfaction with the 2012 presidential field by suggesting it is a manufactured Democratic talking point designed to "handicap" the candidates, when, in fact, polling has consistently shown Republicans are dissatisfied with the GOP field. This spin comes as Fox is investing a significant amount of resources into promoting the GOP presidential candidates.
Fox Dismisses Claims Of Republican Dissatisfaction As Partisan "Griping"
Doocy Attributes To "Democrat[s]" The "Narrative ... That Republicans Are Not Happy With The Slate Of Candidates So Far." On the June 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked Fox News contributor KT McFarland: "What do you make of the Democrat narrative that, you know, the Republicans are not happy with the slate of candidates so far?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/22/11]
McFarland: Claim That The GOP Field Is Weak Is "Griping" From Dems Who Want To "Handicap" The Candidates. From the June 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: KT, what do you think about [Govs. Romney and Huntsman]?
McFARLAND: I think that what you're seeing is the preview of the split in the Republican Party, which is exactly what happened in 1980. When Reagan was elected, it was social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives. And then once Reagan got into office, the fiscal conservatives and the foreign policy conservatives split, because the fiscal guys said, look, we want to balance the budget even if we have to cut defense. And the defense guys said, no, we don't want to balance the budget, we have to keep defense. And what you'll see is Huntsman will be the guy who says fiscal first, and [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry will be the guy who says defense first, strong national security.
DOOCY: So you're saying there's a broad array of choices on the Republican side. What do you make of the Democrat narrative that, you know, the Republicans are not happy with the slate of candidates so far?
McFARLAND: Oh, I think that that's just griping. You know, they're just trying to sort of handicap the race beforehand. The Republican team is -- it represents really talented people. You just don't know who they are yet. Who knew who Barack Obama was at this point before he ran for president? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/22/11]
Fox Chyron Hypes "GOP Field Of Dreams." During a different segment on the June 22 Fox & Friends, the following on-screen text aired:
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/22/11]
But Polling Repeatedly Shows Republican Dissatisfaction With GOP Field
Washington Post: "Widespread Republican Dissatisfaction With Field Of GOP Presidential Candidates." A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in April found that "[f]ewer than half of Republican and GOP-leaning independents are happy with the current crop of candidates for the Republican nomination." From The Washington Post:
[The Washington Post, 4/18/11]
NBC News/WSJ Poll Showed Less Than Half Of GOP Voters Were Satisfied With The GOP Field. On June 15, MSNBC reported that, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, "less than half of Republican primary voters" are "satisfied with their current crop of presidential candidates." From MSNBC:
[W]ith about eight months until the first GOP nominating contests, less than half of Republican primary voters -- 45 percent -- say they are satisfied with their current crop of presidential candidates, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
That's substantially lower than the 73 percent of Republicans who were satisfied in the summer of 2007 (when the GOP candidates included John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee), as well as the 68 percent who were satisfied in early 1996 (when Bob Dole won the GOP nomination). [MSNBC, 6/15/11]
AP/GfK: Republican Dissatisfaction Up to 45% From 33% Two Months Ago. The Associated Press reported that an AP/GfK poll showed that "[t]he more Republicans get to know their potential White House candidates, the less happy they are with their choices." From the AP:
It's not that they dislike the individual candidates. They just give them a collective shrug as possible opponents for President Barack Obama. They'd like someone with a little more pizazz.
Some 45 percent now say they're dissatisfied with the GOP candidates who have declared or are thought to be serious about running, up from 33 percent two months ago, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Just 41 percent are satisfied with the likely Republican field, down from 52 percent.
Four years ago at this time, there was a clearly different dynamic for the GOP. In late May 2007, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found Republicans generally content with their choices: 68 percent said they were satisfied with "the choice of candidates for the Republican nomination for president," though that was well below the 79 percent level of satisfaction among Democrats.
So far this year, it looks like a case of GOP buyer's remorse before all the merchandise is even out on the shelves. [AP, 5/13/11]
New York Times: "Poll Finds Lack Of Passion For Republican Candidates." An April New York Times/CBS News poll found that "nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic." From The New York Times:
With less than a year to go before the Iowa caucuses, Republican voters have yet to form strong opinions about most of their potential candidates for president in 2012, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll would seem to reflect the late start to the Republican primary season, with many of the major likely candidates seeking to hoard their money and avoid any missteps that they might have to live with later, when voters go to polls or caucus rooms.
The survey at the very least provides a reality check for a race that has received frenetic coverage at times on cable news and the Internet even though nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic, according to the poll.
A host of potential Republican candidates have a lot of work ahead -- and money to spend -- to make themselves better known to their party faithful and other Americans. [The New York Times, 4/22/11]
Washington Post: "Nearly Four In Ten Republicans ... Said They Were Unhappy With Their Current Choices In The Presidential Field." In a June 1 post on The Washington Post's blog The Fix, Chris Cillizza reported:
Nearly four in ten Republicans and those who lean toward Republicans said they were unhappy with their current choices in the presidential field, according to a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll, data that will fuel speculation about possible late entrants into the race.
Asked to choose a single word to describe the Republican slate of candidates, fully 37 percent of self identified [sic] Republicans and Republican leaners chose a word with a negative connotation -- with "not impressed/unimpressed" the most commonly mentioned phrase. [The Washington Post, The Fix, 6/1/11]
Fox Has Devoted A Significant Amount Of Resources To Promoting The GOP Primary Field
Fox Has Devoted More Than Nine Hours To GOP Candidates Since June 1. As Media Matters has reported, from June 1-19, Fox has devoted 9 hours and 17 minutes to GOP candidate appearances. From Media Matters' report on Fox's GOP candidate coverage:
[Media Matters, 6/21/11]
GOP Candidates Previously Appeared Nearly 270 Times To "Speak Through Fox News." A previous report by Media Matters showed that through September 18, 2010, five potential GOP presidential candidates -- John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum -- appeared on Fox News 269 times, compared with six appearances on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS combined. [Media Matters, 9/27/10]
Fox Devoted $55 Million Worth Of Airtime To GOP Presidential Candidates. Media Matters further estimated that the 85 hours of free airtime given to GOP candidates in 2010 was the equivalent of $54.7 million in campaign advertising. From Media Matters:
[Media Matters, 1/24/11]