[Dionne and Brooks on NPR] were advancing a media narrative that claims that Obama lost the "message war" with the Republicans over the past year.[...]How do we know any of this is true? What does it even mean to lose the "message war"? And I don't mean to single out Dionne with this -- I've heard this coming from a lot of political observers.
It's a fair question because it's easy to buy into an analysis that on the surface seems substantive but is actually just meaningless cliche. Speaking for myself I believe that Obama's poll numbers on healthcare, public support for healthcare in general and, to a lesser extent, Obama's overall poll numbers* clearly demonstrate that Democrats have lost much of the nation and that is evidence of having lost "the message war."
So to me saying that Democrats have lost the message war is shorthand for noting that Democrats have lost public support for an agenda that 1 year ago was quite popular.
*The president's poll numbers are obviously complicated by the overall terrible economy.