The verdict is in on Mike Huckabee’s criticism of Beyoncé and the Obama’s decision to let their girls listen to the singer and the people of Iowa are not amused, or so a poll from Bloomberg Politics and the Des Moines Register would lead us to believe. The poll showed that while a 40-38% Republican Caucus goers agreed with Huckabee’s criticism of Beyoncé’s music but by a 61-23 margin, they said he went too far in criticising the Obamas’ parenting for letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé.
Libertarian blogger Noah Rothman of Hot Air crowed in a piece headlined, “Huckabee’s anti-Beyoncé campaign has backfired among Iowa voters”, “A politician who would ascend to power by agitating the cynical over an entertainer’s act is unworthy of the honor of leading this great country at a perilous time in history. It is reassuring to see that Iowans seem disinclined to reward Huckabee for appealing to this shallow tactic.”
There’s problem with this narrative. The poll is not only flawed, it’s fatally flawed. The Des Moines Register begins its questions on Beyonce’s music by telling them Huckabee had called the music mental poison and its question about Huckabee’s statements on Obama letting his daughters listen to the pop singer as, “Mike Huckabee said the Obamas were guilty of bad parenting.”
In essence to obtain the answers, the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics informed those being polled that Huckabee had made the statements. The poll is only valid if you assume that 100% of the people who will vote in Iowa Republican Caucus are following the news like a hawk and are aware of the statements now. At best, the poll could be seen as measuring the reaction of those with cursory knowledge of what Huckabee said.
And the second statement was not a quote from Huckabee, rather it’s Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics‘ characterization of Huckabee’s puzzlement at what he views as an inconsistency in the Obamas’ careful parenting and the question’s phrasing parses Huckabee’s thoughts in the harshest way possible. Might the poll results be different if the question said, “Mike Huckabee said the Obamas made a mistake when they let their teenage daughters listen to Beyoncé?” Of course, it’d still have the problem of informaing respondents of information they didn’t know but at the very least, it would have done so in a less biased fashion.
Beyond the mechanics of the ill-advised poll questions, I’m disheartened that two serious news organizations thought this actually merited a polling a question as the entire “controversy” is nothing more than a hallmark of the political silly season we’re experiencing.
Many men and at least one woman are talking to activists and considering laying the groundwork for campaigns that may or may not happen. It’s all very boring and inconclusive stuff, so bloggers and traditional journalists need to come up with something to talk about. A Presidential candidate speaking disapprovingly of a major singer will do the trick. Never mind the context of both the quote and the Presidential race.
Contrary to Rothman’s assertion that Huckabee is trying to “ascend to power” by going after Beyoncé, Huckabee mentioned Beyoncé briefly in a single chapter of a nineteen chapter book. The book itself was written long before he anticipated it would be necessary to leave his show on Fox this soon (remember Huckabee continued until May 2011 before deciding to run in 2012) to consider his campaign and the book is not written as a traditional campaign book that lays a platform for 2016.
Rather, it’s about the cultural divide between what Glenn Beck once called “the Real America” and the cultural elites. Like the former Governor’s late show, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy is a folksy mix of politics, culture, and homespun anecdotes and the constant coverage of these comments have been a result of media fixation not Huckabee declaring war on a pop star.
For those who are concerned about actual politics, the bottom line is this: At the moment, Mike Huckabee doesn’t have a campaign. He has a book tour. If as is expected, Huckabee pursues a second campaign for the White House, voters can be assured, he’ll run a campaign against Hillary Clinton, not Beyoncé.