Fast and furious: That is how the polls are arriving at the moment, cascading into news coverage as Election Day looms large. In the past 48 hours, horse race polls were released by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CBS News, CNN, ABC/Washington Post, The New York Times/Siena College and Emerson College. More are on the way.
These surveys are intricate and often embellished with findings that gauge voter enthusiasm, push Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden‘s lead in swing states, or compare his personality traits with those of President Trump. Such findings often make their way into headlines that produce bad optics for Mr. Trump and conflicting or mixed messages for voters.
“Trump lead in Iowa poll rattles Democrats but Biden still leads nationally,” The Guardian noted.
“President Trump trails Joe Biden by 10 points nationally in final days of election,” said The Wall Street Journal.
“Biden leads Trump in four states,” said The New York Times.
“Biden leads trump nationally, in key states in race’s final days,” proclaimed Bloomberg News.
Mr. Trump has already dismissed what he calls “fake polls” which appear constructed to suggest he is losing to Mr. Biden. Meanwhile, polling itself has grown extremely complicated, what with margin-of-error percentages, the “weighting” of polls, and other factors. Critics also have accused pollsters of surveying more Democrats than Republicans to skew the results to favor Mr. Biden, the results later amped up by a tag-team new media.
Maybe this is true, maybe it is not. A formal study examining the existence of this practice would be very helpful. Whatever the case, poll numbers often end up as usable fodder for the clever press — which remains mostly unfriendly to Mr. Trump.
HOW THEY REALLY FEEL
“Many Americans believe the news media devotes too much election coverage to polls (51%) and controversial statements and actions from a candidate’s past (42%). But even more U.S. adults are critical of the media for spending too little time on the issues that matter most to voters (64%), the policy proposals of candidates and political parties (64%) and the candidates’ qualifications for office (62%),” reports a comprehensive and wide ranging poll from Gallup and the Knight Foundation.
“A slim majority also believes the media devotes too little coverage to the fairness of the voting process and election outcome (54%). Americans are generally content with media coverage of major campaign events such as debates or conventions — 58% say the media devote the “right amount” of coverage to such events.”
In addition, the poll revealed this: “Sixty-eight percent of Americans say the amount of information available about politics and elections makes it hard to be well-informed ‘because there are many sources of information that need to be sorted through to determine what is true or important.’”
See more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.
FEAR AND DISMAY OVER RIOTS
Much of the news media has obsessed about the possibility of riots before, on or after Election Day — which is now imminent. Downtown areas in major cities have been boarded up in preparation. Citizens are not necessarily panicked. But they are uneasy, disappointed, weary and mystified by the evolution of this phenomenon in recent months.
The reasons for social unrest are complicated. One analyst, however, clearly casts blame.
“All of the cities where Election Day rioting is expected have one thing in common: They’re run by Democrats,” notes Eddie Scarry, a commentary writer for The Washington Examiner.
“The next time a cable news anchor mentions the perpetual ‘growing threat of right-wing violence in America’ (which, for some reason, never becomes much more than a ‘threat’), I’d like them to also name the list of cities preparing for mass rioting on Election Day. Here’s a hint: None of them voted for President Trump in 2016,” he says.
“I’d like for a very smart person somewhere to name just one Republican-led city where this is happening,” Mr. Scarry observes, adding that the media itself tends to blame violence and looting on “divisive politics.”
NOW THEY WANT TRUMP
It has been almost 50 years since the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has endorsed a Republican presidential candidate. The news organization has changed it pattern, and thrown its support behind President Trump.
Its endorsement offered many paragraphs pointing out Mr. Trump‘s stylistic faults — and then concentrated on his actual policy record and accomplishments, also making a brief, but cogent case against Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.
“Mr. Biden is too old for the job, and fragile. There is a very real chance he will not make it through the term. Mr. Trump is also too old but seemingly robust. But in Mike Pence, Mr. Trump has a vice president ready to take over, if need be. He is a safe pair of hands. Sen. Kamala Harris gives no evidence of being ready to be president,” the Post-Gazette said.
“This newspaper has not supported a Republican for president since 1972. But we believe Mr. Trump, for all his faults, is the better choice this year. We respect and understand those who feel otherwise. We wish that we could be more enthusiastic and we hope the president can become more dignified and statesmanlike. Each American must make up his or her own mind and do what he or she thinks is best for the community and the republic. Vote your conscience. And, whatever happens, believe in the country.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 68% of Americans say the amount of election information makes it hard to be informed because there are too many sources to consider.
• 32% say it is easy to be well-informed because information is now so easy to access.
• 27% say they take a break from news if they feel “overwhelmed” by the amount of political information.
• 26% will consult a variety of sources and compare facts if they feel overwhelmed.
• 22% pick one or two trusted sources and only pay attention to those.
• 20% don’t feel overwhelmed.
Source: A Gallup / Knight Foundation poll of 1,200 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 24-Oct. 5 and released Wednesday.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.
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