We’ll be hearing from the candidates’ spinners — and their media enablers — all day on Iowa Caucus Day, and they’ll be setting us up for defeat, victory, and unexpected expectations. Here are some blatant spins to look out for; please share any others you’ve heard in the comments.
1. "We’re happy to have placed third, it is a tremendous victory!" is complete and utter bullshit, whether from the Obama, Edwards, or Clinton camps. All three of these campaigns came to win. Saying that their plan was to come in third, and that they have a ticket to New Hampshire based on a third-place finish, is untrue. The candidate among the Big Three who finishes third may very well be out of the running entirely. (Except my candidate, of course! *g*)
2. "We’re happy to have placed third, it is a tremendous victory!" is the absolute truth from any campaign other than Edwards, Clinton or Obama. If any candidate other than the Big Three finishes in the top three, he’s got a ticket to New Hampshire. And the Big Three candidate who lost to him is definitely out of the running for the nomination.
3. "The caucuses don’t really matter — Iowa is unrepresentative, cold, undemocratic, and complicated" is what campaigns will say about this process they’ve invested millions of dollars in — if they do poorly. If Iowa is so unrepresentative, why did you spend three months here the past year? See if the media enablers ask these sore losers this question!
4. "Nothing was decided here tonight" is the message Traditional Media will send if their anointed ones lose. You will hear much discussion about how the precinct meetings simply elected delegates to county conventions, which then choose delegates to the state convention, which finally choose delegates to the national convention in Denver. You will hear that none of these delegates, at any level, are bound by tonight’s results. You are, however, unlikely to hear from TradMed how much they’ve invested in covering this process that decided nothing tonight.
5. It’ll be great to see how soon TradMed starts spinning the "Iowa matters little if at all" meme. There’s been a hint of it already in the "What if Iowa decides nothing?" article from AdNag, among others. The more the Iowa results defy the media narrative, the less important Iowa becomes to TradMed. If the narrative doesn’t fit, you must acquit — or something.
6. "We were outspent and outstaffed" cry from losers will likely go unchallenged by the Villagers, so you’ll want to have Jerome Armstrong’s valuable discussion of the Big Three’s Iowa investments close at hand. We know TradMed won’t.
7. "Candidate X doesn’t have the winning margin and the money to continue" will be particularly prevalent should non-Village-approved candidates (Edwards, Huck) win tonight. In addition to minimizing the importance of Iowa in this circumstance, it’ll be critical to downplay the margin of victory and the all-important cash-on-hand. There may even be a plaintive call from Mrs Greenspan for the winners to gracefully withdraw if they are unacceptable to her, for these reasons.
8. "A tie is as good as a [loss/win]," depending upon the point being made. Well, no one really wants to tie, do they? So ask yourself, how can a tie be as good as a win, or as good as a loss? Isn’t a tie a tie?
9. Finally, be on the lookout for the 2004 Rape Gurney Joe Lieberman spin: "We’re in a three-way tie for third place!" This is especially discomfiting from fiscal conservatives, from whom voters might have reason to expect some greater math facility.
What spin have you heard spun on the cable gabfests today?
Is there a campaign consultant who’s been particularly egregious within your earshot?
Please share the spin in the comments — we can sort out together what the spin might mean for the candidates, or for the prevailing media narrative about Iowa.