I have a new post up at CJR on the problems with journalists setting arbitrary expectations for candidate performance in presidential primaries. Here's the lede:
After finishing the Iowa caucus in a virtual tie with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney is in a commanding position as the Republican primary campaign heads toward next Tuesday’s primary election here. The former Massachusetts governor holds significant leads in New Hampshire polls and dwarfs Santorum in campaign organization, financial resources, and elite support within the party. The only candidate who can match Romney on those dimensions is Texas governor Rick Perry, who finished a distant fifth in Iowa and considered dropping out of the race before deciding to contest the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21.
However, as I wrote earlier this week, journalists have strong incentives to exaggerate the likelihood of a Romney defeat. These incentives often induce reporters and pundits to create unreasonable expectations to heighten the drama. A case in point is a story published Thursday by the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s biggest newspaper, in which senior political reporter John DiStaso asserted that “anything less than a double-digit victory margin would be an under-performance” for Romney and would create a “wide open” race...
Read the whole thing for more.