Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Developments not in the Polls

Hi Everyone,

This is the season of the horse race reports. Media are reporting a lot of horse race stuff and less and less on policy. I've said before I think this is because of the poor level of training and education among journalists (the horse race is easier to report). It could also be because those journalists that want to avoid even the hint of bias avoid policy stories because reporting a policy failure or success has implicit endorsements for one candidate or the other. Either way, journalists are failing in their supposed mission to inform the voters.

Anyway, even the horse race reports are based on polls that don't cover a lot of important developments. Your local news people will just report the poll numbers without any discussion of what those numbers might mean or what they leave out. Here are some items that aren't being discussed much.

Minority turnout: Especially in Florida there are indications that African American and non-Cuban Latino turnout is going to be higher than it has been in a long time. African Americans are very upset about the disenfranchisement of thousands of "Black" voters in Jacksonville. These were registered voters who were turned away because of a flawed list of "felons" compiled and enforced at the direction of Governor Jeb Bush. Latinos are a fast growing group of voters. Thousands of legal residents have accelerated their plans to gain citizenship because of the Patriot Act. Law Talking Guy's step father recently became a U.S. Citizen (born in U.K.) and LTG says that there are indications that the Bush administration has tried to delay the citizenship of as many as they can until after the election but their numbers are still way up (Perhaps LTG can fill us in on the details). In Florida the number of Latino voters has increased by 30% since 2000 and most of those new voters are not Cuban. Similar developments are happening in Colorado (which Bush won easily in 2000 but is now tied). These kinds of voters don't usually make it into lists of "likely voters" so the polls may not be counting them.

Overseas Voters: "Votemaster" is reporting the following:

"I have it on good authority that overseas voters are registering in huge numbers this time, maybe double or triple 2000. I was told that the number of people who showed up at the Democratic party caucus in England earlier this year was 10 times what it was in 2000, ditto in other countries. Americans overseas vote in the state they last lived in, even if that was decades ago. There are about 7 million overseas Americans and probably about 5 million are over 18. In Florida, it was the overseas absentee ballots that swung the election. I believe that something like 8% are military, but the rest are students, teachers, artists, government workers, business executives, spouses of foreign nationals, missionaries, retirees, and more. What is significant here is that these people represent a lot of votes and are not included in any of the polls. Nobody knows if they are largely Democrats or Republicans, but their votes could be one of the big surprises of this election. If anyone has any actual data (as opposed to speculation) on this group, I'd be interested."

Bell Curve is currently overseas, perhaps he could give us a report.

States With Split Electoral Votes: Nebraska and Maine both split their electoral votes based on Congressional district but polls of neither state break it down like that. Maine has 4 electoral votes and Nebraska has 5. Maine is tied overall and Nebraska appears safe for Bush but there has been no poll in that state this time around.


Gaoshan said...

Some comments from me, an 8 year journalism vet (from Jacksonville, no less!)

OK, the points you make about the media dropping the ball with regards to campaign and candidate coverage have some basis in fact.

However, you are generalizing a bit too much. What you've written certainly applies to TV journalism, spot on. Print journalism, on the other hand, is much more in depth and complete.

Poor level of training and education? I doubt it. Most of the journalists I know have high levels of training in a wide range of fields. Within their beats they probably are better informed than many of the people they cover. Regarding education, at my former paper our reporters included graduates of schools like Northwestern, Yale, Stanford, Missouri (a top 5 journalism program) and Ohio University (another top 5 journalism program) among other places. At my old paper, we had group sit down interviews with each candidate (local and state) and then wrote an editorial and stories using some of the information gleaned from those meetings.

As your comments really don't pertain to print media, the rest of my comment is strictly TV media oriented.

For the most part, TV media are far away from their print brethren regarding depth and quality. In part, this is because they have very little time to work with. Most evening news stories have to be under 3 minutes. Not much they can do with that brief instant of time. Another fact is that TV media tends to be more about entertainment than anything else.

I think that if we all learn to view TV as simply entartainment, we won't get too worked up about the lower quality of the information we get from it. You want the news, read a paper or magazine (or website!). You want a light, surface skimming glimpse at the issues, watch TV.

By the way, I was a voter in one of the disenfranchised districts so as far as I know, my vote for Gore was not counted. Talk about pissed off!

Oh! A little nugget for ya'... I covered a rather private Republican rally starring Katherine Harris in the months following the Florida debacle. At that rally, she mounted the podium to an enthusiastic standing ovation, quieted the crowd and with a sarcastic grin said, "Thank you, thank you! I just did what I had to do." at which point the crowd went nuts, whooping it up and laughing (well, they went as nuts a rich guys in expensive suits can, anyway). Told me all I needed to know about the issue.

Raised By Republicans said...

Hi Gao Shan,

I just KNEW I could get you to comment on this blog! ;-)

But seriously, my disdain for journalists' training is mainly directed at TV journalism. But you and I have had debates before about the substantive content of a BA in journalism too. We'll save that one for after the election.

Your account of the Katherine Harris love fest is assounding! It is amazing what Republicans say when they think they're alone. Its like that Eddie Murphy skit on SNL where he disguises himself as a white man and finds out that when the last black guy gets off the city bus, a cocktail waitress serves drinks.

My relatives can say some pretty wacky things when they are assuming that the whole family are as conservative as they are. They still make nasty comments about Clinton, like "Gee I wish the death penalty applied to Clinton" and things like that.

That story and the one you told are just two more reasons why this Eagle Scout and former teenage Reagan fan decided that the Republican party has gone over the edge.

Bell Curve said...

RbR --

Do you have a source re: rising minority turnout?

Raised By Republicans said...

Hi Bell Curve,

The Latino turnout has been rising for years and it well accepted as a major trend. The bit about 30% increase in Latino voter registration is from the Economist.

I can't remember a specific source on African American turnout. But I've heard/read occaisional pieces that registration is up. For example there were a number of reports earlier in the summer that African American registration was up in Florida. Also that requests from ex-convicts to have their voting rights restored (Florida disenfranchices most ex-convicts) are WAY higher than ever before. Stories on that are fairly easy to find. Disenfranchised ex-convicts are disproportionately African-American and poor. They tend to vote in low numbers of vote overwhelming for Democrats. If their numbers increase even a little they could make a difference in the kind of close race expected in Florida.

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