Disconnect Between Voters’ Priorities And Election Coverage Reveals Truth About Big Data
Election topics mentioned most by media outlets covering the presidential race don’t always match up with the issues that voters say are most important.
This disconnect was recently brought to light in a comparison of polling data and rankings of election topics by media mention as captured by the OpenText Election Tracker. The web app is analyzing articles from 200 media outlets.
Although news reports covering the U.S. presidential race mentioned crime more than any other topic from August 2015 through mid-June, a Gallup poll conducted in May identified the economy as the top issue for Americans in the election, cited by 19 percent of voters. Crime, meanwhile, did not place in the top nine issues voters mentioned when polled.
Top voter concerns aren’t always reflected in news stories, in part, because media outlets have their own concerns, said Greg Valliere, a veteran political analyst and chief strategist at Horizon Investments.
“It’s notoriously difficult to cover economic stories,” Valliere said. They’re often based on government reports, which “don’t have a lot of sizzle for readers, lack drama and are hard to explain,” he said. Of course, polling data isn’t infallible either. Voters are indeed concerned about crime, but it tends to be a local issue rather than a national one, Valliere said.