Thursday, 4 August 2016

pouring cold watters on the proceedings

We see criticisms of media bias in the UK, but it seems positively righteous compared with some of the US coverage I saw whilst travelling around ahead of their upcoming election.

Fox usually gets singled out for its Conservative/Republican bias and on some occasions it looked to me as if it was rewriting and directly manipulating the various convention speeches.

For anyone who only browses all the political stuff, these channels can spoon feed opinions with alarming editorial bias.

The parties know this, of course. I noticed that Hillary Clinton published her Democrat speech on twitter in one sentence bursts, which also meant that the most re-tweeted parts (varying from 45k re-tweets down to 2.7k) could be easily harvested and recycled. The main media channels also re-edited the speeches into various orders to serve specific agenda points cut and pasted into convenient video segments.

The UK use of satire and humour comes across as fairly sophisticated compared with some of the U.S. shows, which seem to use cheap laughs at whichever candidate they don't like and then a more reverential tone for the other one.

Of course, the spray-painted Republican candidate plays an astute media grabbing game, saying anything that pops into his head and getting instant free and extensive coverage as a result. The town hall Daytona ramblings are the latest example of someone who doesn't seem to be able to work from a message or strategy at all.

The 600 strong Democrat team to support Hillary are spending huge amounts on TV advertising. By comparison the one-tenth sized 60 strong Republican team don't seem to have spent anything on actual advertising. But perhaps the empty sky boxes at the Cleveland convention tell that part of the story. These 'best seats in the house' were supposed to be filled with backers, many of whom didn't show.

The guy pictured at the top of this post illustrates the awful reporting. I've watched his supposedly amusing news show which provides ample bias. Even when he got Trump onto his show he simply fed easy questions which The Donald could smack out of the park.

The use of logic and statistics also seems to be kept as far from the coverage as possible. I did see a couple of half-hearted attempts, but the preference seems to be almost exclusively to talk about about personalities and the use of negative spin.

Actually, the one area where statistics are getting used is in the determination of which are the few swing states out of the 538 representatives that makeup the House and Senate. There's a couple of steps to this.

First work out the states where there has been a borderline majority one way or the other.

Then look at those states more carefully. Some have a much better voter yield than others.

Beyond the 'certainties' for each party, the best borderline swing states to help achieve the needed 270 votes are in Florida (27 seats), Pennsylvania (18) and Ohio (16). Together they add up 61 seats.

Add the next 3 swings and you get Michigan(14), North Carolina(13), Wisconsin(8) which would add another 35 and then its down to Colorado(7), Minnesota(4), Iowa(4), Nevada(4) and New Hampshire(2) which together would add a further 21.

My guess is that the bulk of the campaigning work will go into the top three and then the top six.

There's also the number of voters to affect in the high population per representative states, where the skew is from around 700k in the high population states down to circa. 200k in North Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont.

So does it really boil down to a few key states, some personality points and mud-slinging negative spin to select the next leader? And will the White House ever serve foreign food again? Solyanka soup, anyone?

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