Monday, October 4, 2010

Media Bias

I noticed two things just now about the Connecticut Senate contest.  One was a Taegan Goddard tweet about a new poll showing a big lead for Democrat Richard Blumenthal.  The other was that Republican Linda McMahon's newly released ad is currently the leading story at the online New York Times. 

Wait a second...Really?  That's the biggest news in the world right now!  Ah, this is going to be one of those things that'll teach us something.  First, you'll notice the url on the link...that "nyregion" in there tells you that it's a local story, not a national story, for the Times.  That gets you thinking: what's up in the region?  New York has three top-of-the-ticket type statewide races this cycle, but both of the Senate contests are snoozers, and the gubernatorial election, while featuring a couple of fascinating personalities, isn't remotely competitive.  Next up, New Jersey.  Nothing doing there; New Jersey already has a new governor, and doesn't have a Senate election scheduled this year.  That leaves Connecticut, and two choices.  They are choosing a new governor there, but it's really not a very interesting set of candidates, as far as I know.  That leaves CT-Senate, with the wacky wrestling woman against the resume-padding liar, as by far the marquee contest in the region that just happens to have the headquarters of most of the nation's most seen and read journalism.  (Yes, there are House elections in all three states, and state legislative elections in two of them, but those always get less coverage -- after all, how many NYT readers live in any single NY Assembly district compared to how many live in the entire state of Connecticut?). 

By the way, I'd think that extra media coverage should, all else equal, help the underdog.  In this case, I think that's very much true.  Connecticut is a good state for Democrats; with little information about the candidates, people are most likely to just for their party, giving Blumenthal an edge.  On top of that, he's been well-known and well-liked for some time.  For McMahon, more information out there, potentially engaging weak partisans, should help -- unless she manages to generate lots of negative publicity about herself, but in that case she would be doomed to lose anyway. 

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