A few years ago, when Tom Kean Jr. was running against Bob Menendez for U.S. Senate, the Fox News Channel asked me to comment on the race. Before the interview was taped, the reporter told me she was going to focus on whether the war in Iraq would be a greater issue for New Jersey voters than the economy. I told her I believed the war was important to New Jerseyans, but that pocketbook issues would be a larger factor when people went to the polls. She asked the same question several times and in several different ways while the camera was on and I continued to give the same response, although none of this part of the interview made it on the air. Instead, the segment included two carefully selected sound bites related to Kean’s chances of winning the election.
I recall this exchange not to lay fault with the Fox News Channel; Keith Olbermann already has the corner on that market. Instead, the experience reminds me that more often than not, elections are — as James Carville put it back in 1992 — about the economy. And that goes for New Jersey’s 2009 gubernatorial election too. Continue reading