State-by-State Slant: Wyoming, Utah Both Shifted 'Even Further to the Right'

In the paper's 2010 state-by-state rundown of election results, "conservative" labels topped "liberal" ones by a margin of 25-2, including identical descriptions by two different reporters of two Western states that last night shifted "even further to the right."

Thursday's Times ran a special four-page analysis of the election results from all 50 states, organized by quadrant - Northeast, South, Midwest, West. Reading the state-by-state analysis is an exercise in the accumulation of labeling disparity.

In all, the four-page spread contained seven mentions of "conservative" Republicans, a surprising six mentions of conservative Democrats (mostly members of the "Blue Dog" coalition going down to defeat), two mentions of fiscally conservative Democrats, and six mentions of conservative or right-wing locations, including two states, Utah and Wyoming, which had both shifted "even further to the right." (The text is slightly different for the Utah entry online, with John Schwartz writing that Utah "showed that even a conservative state can shift sharply to the right." Stephanie Strom wrote the Wyoming entry.)

There were four additional uses of the "conservative" label within the 50-state rundown, for a total of 25 "conservative" or "right" labels.

In contrast, only one politician, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, was labeled a "liberal" in the entire 50-state rundown, skipping over likely names like Jerry Brown in California and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, who were merely labeled Democrats. (Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was seen as being painted by her Republican opponent as a "spendthrift liberal," but that's not the same as a Times reporter calling her one.)

In fact, the Wisconsin entry, written by Julie Bosman, provided three of the section's grand total of four left-of-center labels. Yet even she used a euphemism for liberal, calling Wisconsin a "historically progressive state."

California was also called "a liberal state," if only to demonstrate why it rejected Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's "staunchly conservative, anti-abortion, pro-oil-drilling message."