Political Stories

I’ve not been commenting on the US election, partly because I’ve lived there and know that the situation is far more complex than most people over this side of the pond think it is, and partly because I deeply distrusted most of the reporting. Now it is all over, here are a few thoughts.

Although Obama’s share of the vote went down this time, he still won the electoral college by a massive margin. Yet most media outlets were constantly telling us that the election was neck-and-neck. People who understand the system, like Nate Silver, and doubtless the bookies, were confidently predicting an Obama win. Why? Do no TV or newspaper politics pundits understand how Presidential elections work?

Also, various people in the social media lists I’m following are hoping that some sort of third party will arise, or at least that the next election will be less acrimonious and divisive. Any chance of that?

Personally I suspect that the journalists know exactly what they are doing, and that this sort of election will become more of the norm, not just in America, but worldwide. Why? Because elections are becoming more about the media event than about politics. The media wants stories, preferably simple stories with a good guy and a bad guy. Exactly who was the good guy and who was the bad guy will depend on which news outlets you follow, but in both cases those telling the story want the result to be in doubt right until the last moment.

Quite what this means for the idea of democracy isn’t clear, but we monkeys are deeply addicted to stories and I can’t see that changing any time soon.

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One Response to Political Stories

  1. Also, various people in the social media lists I’m following are hoping that some sort of third party will arise, or at least that the next election will be less acrimonious and divisive. Any chance of that?

    Third parties do seem to have gotten more visible in recent years, thanks to the ability of candidates in the US to run on multiple party tickets at the same time. Most of the ones I’m seeing are on the left wing, but being in an urban area on the West Coast, you’d expect that.

    I don’t think any of them are likely to be serious challengers soon, though. Americans Elect was the best shot for a credible third-party candidate in years, and it couldn’t find anyone willing to accept its funding.

    On the bright side, it looks like maybe the Republican party machine is willing to learn the demographic lesson it’s been handed again this time around.

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