The Atlantic Monthly is reporting that 37% of all political news coverage is about strategy, while only 25% is about actual policy details (one assumes the rest of the political news is about polls...)

I suspect this is even more biased towards strategy than the numbers indicate, since stories about policy often include coverage of how it "plays" among constituents, who's lining up to oppose it, etc.

Some of this is because, for the audience, policy is dry and measuring the impact of various proposals in real terms is difficult and contentious. Furthermore, political strategy is fun and engrossing in a gossipy sort of way. But it's also easier for the journalists to report on intangibles like "the mood of the electorate" and "responding to attacks" and "appealing to the middle" and whatnot. Actually a lot of these pieces report as fact that which can only be described as opinions on motivation. Nowhere in the language of an FCC ruling is a phrase like "we're caving to powerful communications lobbies" and yet, it is often reported as such. Strategy and maneuvering and style trumping substance.

This fits with that princeton economist who said this is the first White House he's seen that has no independent policy team -- instead, policy is guided by politics at every level. Ideas aren't proposed by wonks and economists only to be massaged and spun by Rove -- instead, they are proposed by pundits based on what will win, wedge, and energize the base. Only later do the policy wonks chime in about feasibility, worth, usefulness, etc.