Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites – Campaign Vs policy

The lack of media balance in this campaign is evident on a number of levels, none more than focus on personality and gossip over policy and ideas about America’s future. The country, like the rest of the world, is faced with potentially catastrophic economic and climate issues, but personality and entertainment rule the day.

The approach seems to suit John McCain, who prefers to create policy on the trot. It’s far more difficult for Obama who is forced to water down his policy messages in the face of a seemingly uninterested electorate.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington

The candidates, presumably

The Patriot Game

The Middle East

It's the economy, stupid

Campaign about Campaign...


A Google news search using the separate search terms Obama, McCain and US election 08, with 30 results called for each query. (Aug 6 08)

Content judged on balance between policy discussion and campaign gossip.

Classifications are, at times, subjective but based primarily on the level of policy discussion in an article as opposed to campaigning chatter and gossip.

Results overview

A clear 3:1 ratio in favour of gossip.

Not surprisingly, given a one day scan, 9 of the 14 policy articles featured just one policy – energy.

Sadly only six of the articles even approaches straight reporting, the rest essentially commentary.

The article list:


  1. Energy is the hot topic on the campaign trail this week.
  2. Hillary Clinton to campaign for Obama in Florida
  3. Obama leads McCain nationally in AP-Ipsos poll
  4. TPM: another point in common between John McCain and George Bush
  5. Today on the presidential campaign trail
  6. Election 2008: "Czechoslovakia"
  7. Will the High Road Work for Obama?
  8. McCain in Michigan
  9. Pelosi keeps Hillary’s VP embers glowing
  10. More energy back and forth
  11. Obama returning to Minneapolis on Wednesday for fundraiser
  12. The Audacity of Contempt
  13. Man heckles Obama about Pledge of Allegiance
  14. John McCain's Greatest Misses
  15. Wishful Thinking and Deadly Self-Deception
  16. At last a poll that includes Cynthia McKinney
  17. Obama Abroad
  18. What We Need To See More Of From Obama
  19. Media Fall for 'Race Card' Spin
  20. Reading his clips
  21. Paging Dr. Gingrich! (Please Phone Home)
  22. Mock, disparage, ridicule, distort.
  23. Black reporter booted from McCain rally
  24. The Montauk Monster has been kidnapped. Maybe.
  25. McCain offers hugs, words of comfort to serviceman’s mom
  26. Cheney not expected to attend GOP convention
  27. Obama praises his woulda-been attacker
  28. Obama and McCain: The Wrinkly Issue of Age
  29. Obama on McCain mocking him for call to inflate tires: "They need ...
  30. A Preview of McCain’s Acceptance Speech
  31. Barack Backer Plays Dodgeball Over Obama Vote for Bush Energy Bill
  32. Fred Thompson
  33. Sen. Joe Lieberman to host Palm Beach town hall meeting
  34. What, St. Paul worry?
  35. Obama Pressed to Pledge; Obama Laughs at Pressure Gauge Attacks
  36. Who's the real Obama?
  37. He's not that mad
  38. Premiere Latino Public Television Network in US Reveals ...
  39. Report card the last before spring ‘09 election
  40. Political Punch
  41. McCain has comfortable lead in Arizona


  1. McCain pushes for more nuclear plants
  2. Nuclear waste disposal will cost US $96B
  3. Supreme Court, Abortion in the Balance: Obama and McCain Split on ...
  4. Energy compromise offers test for Obama, McCain
  5. We Don't Need a War on Terrorism
  6. McCain touts nuclear power in Fermi tour
  7. Is One Automaker Default Almost a Sure Thing?
  8. Presidential Candidates talk energy
  9. McCain Energized on Energy
  10. Obama's energy plan heavy on clean tech
  11. Obama's energy plan,
  12. Obama calls for ending reliance on foreign oil
  13. Business fears election will boost labor
  14. Obama's Plans Spell Economic Doom

I will comment on this one…

Note that McCain has never really budged in the national polls by more than a point here or a point there. But personality campaigning is the only real lever McCain’s team have in this race.

“Obama was knocked flat by McCain’s negative jabs very easily late last month, a sign that the minimal percentage of voters who had migrated to Obama over most of June and July were hardly on the bandwagon for good and still harbored doubts about him as a candidate and as a person.” Obama reclaiming lead in new polls

Using the same methodology as news, the blogs throw up an even stronger emphasis on personality over policy – try 2 out of sixty policy articles. Given the nature of blogging I would have expected a little more discussion on policies. For my part, demonstrably this series is basically campaign chatter, but I do balance that with more focused policy discussion, which also tend to drive more discussion.

It’s a different story for the media, for them it is a business driven by readership numbers. But in a campaign drawing more voter interest than any other race in generations the media are missing their mark. That is not my conclusion but the reported inability of the media to find the mark.

“…many media companies are struggling to translate campaign coverage into repeat readers and viewers — or revenue.”

“…broadcast networks’ evening newscasts — the traditional standard-bearers of television news — have been unable to stop their long-term ratings declines”

“The audience for newspaper Web sites rose sharply this year, even as the printed papers continued to lose circulation”

Perhaps some sound, old fashioned reporting, in place of self important punditry. The blogs do that well enough, but most of us don’t have the resources for reporting.


enigma4ever said...

omg this is awesome...thank you for this...I will send folks over this

( hey it is Watergate 's 3 year anniversary....head over- I will save you some cake ;-)

Praguetwin said...

Well, this is why we will see McCain in the White House. The race is close enough, that all it will take is one "Willie Horton" moment to doom Obama. The GOP is infinitely more skilled in this area than the Democrats.

I've been saying for over a year that McCain will be the next president. I'm sticking to that.

(don't confuse this prediction with my druthers)

Cart said...

Thanks Enigma. I'll try and get back on the ball this week.

PT, we rarely ever agree on predictions :) But I'm going to stick with the broad economic argument going in BO's favour.

enigma4ever said...

don't believe the MSM -it is total crap- it is not close at all- all of those that live here know it...MCCain is not going to win....he can barely fill a room with 400 right signs no stickers - NOTHING...
and I live in the Heartland- he is trouble....more than anyone know...the MSM tries to paint that he has all of this support- it is the biggest lie yet....come to my watergate summer blog- I have photos of the empty rooms for have NO idea HOW bad it is here in the States....and how people here is easy to believe propaganda when you are not living within the pain of what is really here right now...

hey there- I hat-tipped you this weekend...( yesterday)...and please do come see my homeless video I have up-- I made it with Mandt- I chose photos and music( some of the photos are mine)....FIRST Youtube creation...

I have not heard what you decided...but you know I am rooting for you friend....always..

take care...

D.K. Raed said...

You do have a way with words, Cart: "McCain prefers to create policy on the trot" is so evocative. I'm hoping that was a double entendre. That would mean Australians also use the word trot in a bathroom sense ... which perfectly describes where McC's policies might be emanating from. Oh sh*t, please tell me you meant it that way, PLEASE!

Cart said...

But what can I say DK? Just dissemble perhaps? They talk shit, I can't help that :)

D.K. Raed said...

LOL ... or you could "disassemble" (like dumbf*ck bush once said & then tried to give a definition, only to prove he is truly a dumbf*ck) ... thanks for the laugh!

enigma4ever said...

Distributor cap came up with a new word..."MUNT" cunt....clever huh?

D.K. Raed said...

Hah, E! and need I point out that munt goes so well with bush ... I thought not ... oooh, it also goes with McCain, maybe even better.

Cart said...

I don't know - you redheads are a real worry - :)