Tuesday, April 06, 2021


In The Washington Post, Daniel Drezner considers the media's lack of interest in the opinions of Biden voters.
Four years ago the mainstream media was awash in stories about Rust Belt diners teeming with Trump voters. These stories depicted salt-of-the-earth Americans who were sick and tired of business as usual in Washington, D.C. (Whether they were actually salt-of-the-earth is subject to debate.) ...

As a close follower of political news, I have observed no parallel surge of stories about any crucial Biden demographic since his election. This is legitimately odd....
Is there an obvious explanation? Drezner doesn't think so.
When I asked about this contrast on social media, I got some fair and reasonable responses from the Fourth Estate. Trump’s 2016 win was surprising, whereas Biden’s was expected — if anything, the election night surprise in 2020 was that it was closer than expected. Furthermore, traditional factors explain Biden’s victory. Trump governed badly, leaving the country in worse shape than when he was inaugurated. It is not surprising that Biden won.

The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts find these reasons partially, but not entirely, persuasive. It’s not like 2017 was the first time that the news media was ever interested in a key voting demographic. I am old enough to remember lots of talk about “security moms,” and before that “soccer moms,” and before that “Reagan Democrats.” Covering swing demographics has been a journalistic tradition for some time now.

Furthermore, this lack of interest in Biden voters comes at the same time the news media still seems super-interested in Trump voters. What do they think about the Jan. 6 insurrection? Do they like Biden’s infrastructure bill?
Right -- the press is still going on diner safaris to learn the innermost thoughts of Trump voters. Journalists can no longer saythat they're seeking to explain a surprise win because Trump didn't win this time.

Is this happening because the press believes it already gives too much coverage to Biden's demographic base?
Why the lack of Biden voter interest? Perhaps the very demographic that swung the election to Biden is also the slice of America that already receives a disproportionate share of media coverage: college-educated White suburbanites. According to voter analyst David Shor, this is the group that shifted the most in voting between 2016 and 2020.
Yes, but in 2004, as Drezner notes, the press was fascinated by "soccer moms" who'd become "security moms" -- and who tended to be upscale white suburbanites. The candidate favored by "security moms" wasn't a surprise winner -- it was George W. Bush in 2004, who won reelection as most incumbent presidents do.
The biggest driver for the lack of Biden voter coverage, however, might be that the reportage of Trump voters came from a different motivation. In 2017, the interest was in how Trump voters felt about a president who was beclowning the executive branch on a daily basis. The tenor of that coverage was a befuddled national press corps venturing into parts unknown to discover how these voters felt about a president acting unlike any other president in history.
So why are these same reporters still fascinated by Trump voters' opinions on the Biden presidency, which is not clown-like or dysfunctional?

If journalists don't want to interview white suburban Biden voters, they can interview non-white Biden voters -- maybe they could ask them how they feel about Republican (and centrist Democratic) stonewalling of important legislation (on, say, the minimum wage or gun violence). But the press doesn't seem to care.

The press doesn't even seem interested in the Black and Hispanic voters who swung to Trump in 2020. You'd expect a lot of coverage of these voters, whose preferences in 2020 surprised many of us. But the media appears uninterested.

The media neglects white Biden voters out of what appears to be group self-hate. The media is still fascinated by white Trump voters, romanticizing them as manly Real Americans. And the media doesn't seem interested in non-white Biden or Trump voters, apparently for the simple reason that they're non-white. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.

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