Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Newspaper and the Ballot Box

I saw a rather interesting piece on the news on TV this past Monday morning.  It was about a piece they'd read in the leftist journal Politico dealing with the geographical areas which had voted disproportionately for Donald Trump in 2016, relative to their voting for Mitt Romney in 2012.  The data analysis suggested that the fewer available daily newspapers, the more likely they were to have voted for President Trump.

You can read the piece here, if you don't mind the fact that it goes on past its point for many, many paragraphs.  Read it around 10:30 tonight, if you need help sleeping.

For today, we will concede the data and certainly the stated analytical outcome.  The fewer the daily newspapers, the more the citizenry tended to go for Trump in the voting.  It is fairly intuitive, so there's no point positing that it didn't happen.

Of course, the article's two verbose authors -- and if you read my column regularly, you understand "verbose" -- chose to make conclusions from the analysis that supported their own viewpoint.  Imagine that, a leftist journal has two leftist writers make the one of two possible conclusions that supports a leftist narrative.  Duh.

"Two conclusions", you ask?  Oh, yeah.

The article goes on to point out that there is a dearth of daily newspapers in certain areas, and where there were no print journals with print-journal opinions for the "dumb citizenry" to read, or where the subscription rates to daily news media were the lowest, 2016 Trump outdrew the votes for 2012 Romney fairly regularly.

The authors of the piece jumped directly and enthusiastically to the logical leftist conclusion.  President Trump won those areas, they inferred, because the citizenry, absent the necessary guidance of the brilliant daily news media, was uninformed about what a disaster the mainstream media felt that a Trump presidency would actually be.  The voters were ignorant, they went on, and therefore voted for Trump -- in their words, the voters in those areas actually (hold your breath) believed what he said and what he told them he was going to do!

The converse, they pointed out, was also true -- that Hillary Clinton had actually done better in places where the subscription rates were the highest (such as DuPage County in suburban Chicago), better than even Barack Obama had done.

Unfortunately, the authors blindly took the one of two equally logical inferences as gospel -- and naturally, they took the inference that fit the leftist narrative.

But there was another logical inference to make, one they logically ignored.

You see, there were two ends to the spectrum; in fact, their pointing out the situation in the suburban Chicago county actually supports the contrary assumption even better.  The authors decided that the uneducated, the dummies that didn't subscribe to newspapers, blindly believed what Donald Trump told them.  And that's why they voted that way.

But the other side is what happens when voters are exposed to the news -- the news, that is, as curated by the left-leaning daily media.  The article itself pointed out that newspapers rarely supported the president in their endorsements, meaning that those voters who were actually subscribers were far more likely to get one-sided, anti-Trump biased editorializing, and in cases like the Washington Post and New York Times, anti-Trump biased reporting as well.

It's perfectly sound to think that Trump might have won even more voters in even more precincts, had that bias in the daily media not been there.  If that is the case, then Politico's conclusion would be completely different in its focus.  It could have taken the very same data and decided that the daily media had done a really good -- though ultimately not quite "good" enough -- job of trying to turn the subscriber against voting for President Trump.

I hope you follow this.  Absent the hectoring of the daily media, the American voter was far more likely to decide that Hillary Clinton was a crook, who more deserved to be in prison than in the White House; and that voter was far more likely to conclude that she had no real argument for becoming president other than her being female.

The same voter, absent media hectoring, was apt to listen to Donald Trump and, already fed up with our wimpy foreign posture, our skyrocketing debt, his or her own doubled insurance premiums because of Obamacare (my "doubling" case documented here), the whole PC mentality ... and to decide to vote for Mr. Trump.  It wasn't so much that the voter hadn't heard the biased "truth" from the media that Politico loves; it was that he or she was perfectly capable of making up his or her own mind.  And that meant voting for Trump, because he said he was going to take steps that the voter approved of.

I honestly don't know what 2020 will look like on that front; even in the last year the number of subscriptions to daily news outlets has plummeted.  But it won't stop them from trying to sabotage this president.

And it won't stop Politico from totally misinterpreting its own data.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

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