Wrong Headline, Wrong Story

In the ongoing effort to make the 2008 Presidential Election all about race and increase readership or ratings or something, today’s Washington Post has the inflammatory front page headline “3 In 10 Admit to Race Bias” and chronicles the trouble Barack Obama is having in getting the (play dramatic music) White Vote.

If you read on to paragraph 9 on the second page, you will discover what I found to be news. That is, Democrats running for president have been having trouble with the (play dramatic music) White Vote for the past few election cycles–and according to the article, this trend has been going on since Jimmy Carter ran in 1976.

This is hardly the first time a Democratic candidate has faced such a challenge — Al Gore lost white voters by 12 points in 2000, and John F. Kerry lost them by 17 points in 2004 — but it is a significantly larger shortfall than Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton encountered in their winning campaigns. — Wash Post

Somehow, though, the Post acts like Obama is having a problem with the (play dramatic music) White Vote because he is black. That’s not what I see in the data.

Hey Post, I think that if you actually read your data–to make it easy I made a graph with a trendline–you would agree that the story is either

  1. Dems have been in trouble with white voters for a while, OR
  2. Obama’s race doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on the voters–so far.

The Post piece is NOT good thinking.

5 thoughts on “Wrong Headline, Wrong Story

  1. lacochran, I guess coming from a rust-belt, white-ethnic, working class area the numbers aren’t such a surprise 🙂 But my point was just yours, the WaPost is looking to increase paper sales or “engagement” by stoking the flames of racism. I think that is neither necessary or good. So your’re right, an “A” for paper sales and yellow journalism but a “D” for acting as a responible member of the 4th Estate.

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  2. I’m still working on the “3 in 10 Admit to Race Bias” part. I’m not sure if I’m surprised that 3 out of 10 are willing to admit to bias or really how to interpret that. The race divide seems huge to me but I guess I’m not sure what I would expect that number to be… How many people are self-aware? How many people are willing to admit biases publicly? So, from a “let’s engage the reader” perspective, I’d have to give the Post an A.

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  3. Good point – wonder if there will be any follow up or further exposition/elaboration from the WP on the historical trend angle – as that seems like an angle worth exploring. (like the sound effects, by the way)

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