So, Mark Halperin went to New Hampshire to watch the GOP presidential field. And then he evaluated them by handing out grades, which I guess is meant to be rigorous. I think these “grades” reveal at least as much about modern political journalism as they do about what happened in the Granite State.
The start of each arrow is the “substance” grade; the end of the arrow indicates the “style” grade. The caret indicates an “overall” grade, which is some kind of combination of all of Halperin’s observations. (For simplicity, I left out cases where the style and substance grades were the same.)
I will make some observations of my own.
- “Substance” is supposed to mean how Halperin evaluated their policy statements. However, grades did show any clear relationship to the explanation given. And when the two grades differed, the style grade was nearly always higher (13 out of 14 cases). I wonder if “substance” is really a measure of whether Halperin got bored.
- “Style” seems to be nearly equivalent to “overall grade”. If we use these data to estimate what weighting scheme would lead to the overall grades, “style” would have to count for an average of 87% of the grade; “substance” would count for 13%. The median contribution of “style” is 100%.
- Consequently, Halperin does not have a good way to distinguish Scott Walker, the sitting governor of Wisconsin, from Donald Trump, who is probably running for president for the publicity.
I conclude that Halperin is just giving a fancy version of telling us his gut reaction to the whole scene. I guess that is what he is paid to do. It might be just as well, since even at its best, Presidential campaign messaging is pretty far from actual policies and laws. Though I do find it an interesting thought that Rand Paul’s current problem is that he is too substantive.
I think the real bottom line is: if he were a teacher, Mark Halperin would give nearly everybody a B of some kind, except for Marco Rubio, who he thinks is fun.