Burying the Lede
Share this on

Burying the Lede

Last week, The Nation was telling us that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was “defeated” in first day of the censure debate in the House of Representatives. I blogged at the time in relation to the media coverage of the event:
/>

Samak has reasoned that he doesn’t need the media and has his own show, but his poll numbers are still good. I expect he will take a “hit” in Bangkok over the next few weeks in poll numbers, but I’ve seen nothing fatal. No smoking gun.
/>

/>We are also told that “Samak does not have any MP support in the PPP”. Thanong wrote a week and a half ago that “you can count the days before Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej announces his resignation”. Yoon also said the government was “badly injured”.
/>
/>Well, Samak is not from a faction so he doesn’t have any factional support. What about his poll numbers and the government’s poll numbers?
/>
/>There are two new polls out yesterday. Nothing in The Nation. Hmm. The very last article in the Bangkok Post’s general news section has this lede “Poll finds Democrat performance sound”. The article begins:
/>

Most people are satisfied with last week’s censure debate and have applauded the opposition party for being informative and well-organised, according to the Suan Dusit Poll.
/>
/>Up to 50.97% of the 1,336 people whose views were sought countrywide by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, were impressed by the information presented by the Democrat party during the no-confidence debate against the Samak Sundaravej government.
/>
/>Mr Samak and his ministers were shaken to their boots by the sharp-tongued Democrats, the sole opposition party, who took them to task for their poor vision and unrealible policies, ranging from offering support to Cambodia’s move to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site to ineffective solutions on the reeling economy.
/>
/>Of those polled, 32.65% of respondents said the debate awakened them to many facts and showed them what a mess Thai politics was in, while 20.41% said they now had a much clearer idea about the government stance on the Preah Vihear issue, which is under heavy criticism in both legal and political circles.
/>
/>However, the debate also had its disappointments, as 29.31% said some debaters spoke off-theme while 22.41% said too many “unreasonable protests” were made to disrupt the debate. Dissatisfaction with the customary voting was 20.69% among the respondents, for requiring MPs to vote along party lines.

/>BP: Does this 50% who are impressed with the Democrats (I think they did a good job of providing a check on the executive) translate into actual support for the Democrats? The poll doesn’t provide any numbers either way. The rest of the poll doesn’t tell us too much with numbers in the 20s and 30s for and against the government. Just as I am about to finish my skim read of the article, we have this:
/>

The Assumption University (Abac) poll sampled 5,453 people from 18 provinces and asked whether they still back Mr Samak as prime minister. Up to 52% said they do. The figure is a slight increase from the 48.5% of those polled before the debate.
/>
/>Only 40.6% said they disliked Mr Samak while 7.4% offered no opinions.
/>
/>Abac poll director Nopadon Kannikar noted the percentage of what he called the “quiet force,” or the undecided, has gradually decreased from 22.4% since March this year. This shows many people from this group have begun to support the government, he said.
/>
/>But those changing their mind in favour of the government are mostly in the Northeast, a stronghold of the ruling People Power party and the dissolved Thai Rak Thai party, says the poll.

/>BP: Wow! A poll with 3 times the sample size with actual numbers on government support and it is buried. Samak’s numbers are actually up after the censure debate. Given the bad news coverage and a bruising censure debate, Samak still has 52% support.
/>
/>Some other poll numbers from this poll from Thai Rath, support for Samak in the Northeast is 72% whereas in the South it is 26.1%. In Bangkok, it is 50.4%. In addition, for those who support the government, it is at 55.2% and those who don’t suport the government, it is 37.4%. Those undecided/not offered an opinion is at 7.4%. The last ABAC poll (June 1-8) stated “53.6% outside of Bangkok and 41.4% in Bangkok support the current government”.
/>
/>BP: So after the government was “shaken to their boots by the sharp-tongued Democrats…who took them to task for their poor vision and unrealible policies”, their support went up to 55.2%. This is also an increase in support (compare with prevous poll above). Surely, this should be in the lede and on the frontpage.
/>
/>btw, burying the lede:
/>

“Burying the lede” is a common stylistic error in journalism. To bury a lede (rhymes with “bead”) is to hide the most important information within a news story instead of putting it up front where readers can find it immediately.