No Liberals Among the Dems, But Plenty of Conservatives on GOP Side

A stark double standard on pinning ideological labels on the parties.

Republicans voted in 21 states yesterday on Super Tuesday, with the moderate Sen. John McCain steadily motoring on toward the nomination, while former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee surprised in the South and conservative Mitt Romney disappointed.

On the Democratic side, liberal Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton fought to a rough draw over 22 states, leaving the race very much up in the air.

Properly, much of the coverage in Wednesday's Times discussed the split among conservative voters between McCain and Romney (and Huckabee). Yet the paper almost completely avoided ideological underpinnings when discussing the two liberals running on the Democratic side - even though Barack Obama was just named the most liberal voting record in the Senate in 2007 by the respected National Journal . Hillary also shifted to the left in 2007.

The Times' full-page state-by-state rundown of races, "With Issues of War and Peace on Their Minds, Voters Make Choices" (which I can't locate online) was split into two columns, Republican and Democrats, focusing on the outcomes in eight states as seen through the Times' exit polling. While the GOP side featured a scattering of ten "conservative" labels, the Democratic side of the ledger contained one lonely reference to Obama "running strongly among...liberals." Even that was balanced by one about Democratic voters "who described themselves as 'somewhat conservative.'"

Even when given an ideal opening to discuss the liberal bent of Democratic primary voters, the Times passed - as reporter David Chen did in his report on the Connecticut primary - "Obama takes Connecticut, Helped by Lamont Voters." No liberal labels for either Obama or the ultra-liberal Ned Lamont, who won the Democratic Senate primary in 2006 but lost to Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the general election.

By contrast, a story by Michael Luo and Adam Nossiter, "As Romney Falters in Republican Race, Huckabee's Drive Gathers Momentum" discussed "conservative voters" and "very conservative voters." Elisabeth Bumiller and David Kirkpatrick's "Luck and Defiance Rescued Limping McCain Campaign" had four "conservative" labels.

A Michael Powell article on the same page about Hillary's successful Northeast campaign had no liberal labels, dividing the party instead into "blue-collar" voters and by sex and race - no liberal ideology here. But Powell did note that Romney and Huckabee had "sounded resolutely conservative messages."